Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Doggie Doodie: Keeping Our Waterways Clear of Bacteria

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Be sure to stop by Btc4Animals and thank them for this quarterly awareness day. I hope you'll find time to read through some of the other postings at their site today.

Have you read your state or county's website on the water quality of your area's natural waterways? Well let me clue you in. We're in a sad state of affairs. Runoff is our largest offender. Drainage after a hard rain such as last weekend's 20-hour-long deluge in Central Florida carries all manner of pollutants through our drainage systems and right into our lakes, rivers, streams and retention ponds.

When tested, these runoff waters have picked up, among other no-nos, fertilizers that cause algae bloom, pest control chemicals that poison fish and waterfowl, and you guessed it--doggie doodie. That means coloform bacteria is carried in small brown packages right into our recreational areas for swimming, boating and fishing.

Think again if you're telling yourself you don't live near a waterway. The maze of drainage systems in any developed community--urban or suburban--will amaze you if you look into it. It's like this unseen rat's maze under the streets that carries rain and floodwaters to its final destination in our favorite watering holes. What a shame that some pet owners are contributing so unknowingly to this pollution.

It's not too late, though. You can do your part. I'll start with the toughest idea and move toward the easier. Here's a simple plan:
  • Vow to stop using toxic chemicals on your lawn. That's major, I know. I made the switch to organic lawncare in 2007. It has been 4 1/2 years and I still have a full lawn that is lush and green. Sure, I have a few more weeds. But that's mostly because I don't work terribly hard at removing or killing them naturally (Sprinkle yours will baking soda and they'll wither just as good as with weedkiller). You can read more about Eco-friendly lawncare here.
  • Clean up after your dog in your own yard. If you're like my family, our two pups often make their deposits here at home. A bucket and scooper will allow you to quickly collect these daily, to avoid their bacterial runoff with the eventual rainfall. To best reduce pollution, you can dump this waste into your toilet and flush. The sewer systems were created for processing and treating omnivorous waste. That's what you've just collected, so why not dispose of it without making your trash can stink and spreading bacteria? You can find the Petmate Clean Response system here.
  • Use an outdoor disposal option that is Eco-friendly. Rather than tossing your canine's castoff into the trash, drop it into an in-ground biodegrader, without the bag. This terrific gadget called a Doggie Dooley, is inserted into the ground outside. With a flip-open top, it provides hands-free operation when you drop Fido's load into the container, which then proceeds to biodegrade the material and allow it to be absorbed into the soil below. Check it out at the link above. 
  • Follow through with cleanup when away from home. Carry a bag with you when you walk your dog or take him with you anywhere. Better yet, keep a package of doodie bags in your car and in a leash attachment. I love Flush Puppies because they were made to dissolve in water, therefore making them flushable and allowing the contents to be treated in our waste system. Anything is better than putting a lifetime of plastic bags in the landfill, only to biodegrade in a hundred years.  I did the math and was not impressed. Two dogs x 3 bags on average per day at an average of 14 years per dog = 15,330 bags just for my 2 dogs alone. With 40-60 million dog owners in the U.S., depending on which estimates you read, that's a ton of dog poop in landfill. Worse yet, the plastic bags are a nightmare for our environment. Even the so-called "biodegradable" poop bags that are not flushable will take years to biodegrade. 
© courtesy
The point is you do have choices. You can contribute to a cleaner world moving forward, or you can tell yourself it's just one bag each time you put it in the trash. Next time you visit your nearby lake or riverfront, don't be surprised when you see a sign posted " No Swimming. Water Tests Reveal Coloform Bacteria". This doesn't just mean you; it includes your dog too. Where will you swim now?

Need help getting started? Check out my giveaway at Pawsome Pet Poop Prizes! You'll also find this link in my center sidebar.  And good luck to you in whatever way you to choose to do your part. You've taken the first step by reading this Be the Change for Animals post. Grab the badge and write your own cause. It's good karma.


Brian said...

Great read. Our waterways are extremely important, everyone can take part in helping improve them including dog owners. One of those things you don't think about much, how not picking up after your animals can can effect your waterways...

Mr. Pip said...

Great tips. Although I am very active in clean water issues in my area, I never considered how dog waste contributes to the problem. Thanks for shining light on this issue!

BtC4animals said...

Carrie, this is an awesome post.

I volunteered with the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York not long ago and learned a ton about our water systems that the general population has no awareness of. Even the roadway salt we depend on in the winter is a run-off issue. I'm so glad you wrote about the role of dog waste as well.

How awesome that you mention the Doggie Dooly. We were just looking at this as an environmental solution at the lake cottage we're looking to buy. Leave it to us to talk about how to handle that before we talk about how to remodel! :)

Thanks so much for Blogging the Change.
All the best,
Kim Clune

Vicki Stringfellow Cook said...

Being a responsible pet owner means cleaning up after your dog. Or as Amy Burkert likes to say "there is no poop fairy!" Thank you for sharing this information so people can make eco-friendly choices!

chandra said...

Excellent topic! Thanks so much for great tips - I just looked at the Doggie Dooly and was surprised at the low price! My neighborhood is very residential with no public trash cans around so all the scooped poop comes home with me ... and then goes in our trash can. I'm definitely going to look into Doggie Dooly!

-Chandra at Daley's Dog Years

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