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Water Quality photo identifier

Land use and Nonpoint Pollution

Nonpoint Pollution from Pet Waste

Bacterial pollution is the single most common problem facing Washington State waters. Excessive levels of bacteria are found in at least 30 percent of the state's polluted waters. The sources of bacteria vary with location. In urban watersheds, pet wastes are a significant source.

Dog in a hat.  Photo from Clipart.

Studies show that about half of all dog owners walk their dogs in public areas. However, up to 40 percent do not clean up after their pets. Pet waste, whether left on paved surfaces or dumped outside, does not simply "disappear". This waste can be washed into storm drains, where it eventually enters our rivers, lakes, and streams. Bacteria in pet waste can contaminate our water, making it dangerous for drinking and swimming. It can also contaminate shellfish beds, making it hazardous to harvest and eat the shellfish.

Cleaning up after pets and properly disposing of their waste products helps protect Washington's rivers, lakes and streams. Cleaning up after pets protects people from exposure to waste-borne bacteria on land as well.

For more information on pet waste issues:

Focus on Bacterial Source Tracking (Ecology Publication)

Pooping pets pose pollution predicament (Ecology News Release, 02/04/2004)

Pet Waste Station Information (PDF) (Ecology publication)

Pet Waste Pollution Prevention Fact Sheet (Stormwater Center.Net)

Focus on Pet Waste Management (Ecology Publication)

2008 Pet-Waste Study (Fauntleroy Watershed Council)


Last updated May 2008