While not posing as much of a threat to water quality as some industrial activities and golf courses, dog feces as a source of pollution in stormwater runoff can have a significant negative impact. Dog waste contains bacteria and parasites, as well as organic matter and nutrients, notably nitrogen and phosphorous.
In addition to these diseases, the organic matter and nutrients contained in Dog Waste can degrade water quality. When dog waste is washed into a surface water body, the waste decays. This process of breaking down the organic matter in the waste uses up dissolved oxygen and releases ammonia. Low oxygen levels, increased ammonia and warm summer water temperatures can kill fish.
Excess phosphorous and nitrogen added to surface waters can lead to cloudy, green water from accelerated algae and weed growth. Decay of this extra organic matter can depress oxygen levels, killing organisms. Objectionable odors can also occur.
Flies and other pest insects can also increase when dog waste is disposed of improperly, becoming a nuisance and adding another vector for disease transmission.
Managing dog waste properly is something that everyone can do to make a difference in their respective watersheds. Truly, proper individual actions result in significant water quality improvement when carried out by the majority. Unlike some forms of storm water pollutants, dog waste can be easily and economically managed by the individual.
Sometimes, the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude exists regarding dog waste. Employing this flawed thinking, waste is often disposed of in the street storm water catch basin. Aside from dumping directly into a water body, this is the single worst place to dispose of waste. In the next rainstorm, the accumulated waste is transported quickly and efficiently to the nearby receiving water course, polluting it (source – Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists)
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“According to recent research…95 percent of the fecal coliform found in urban stormwater was of non-human origin. Bacterial source tracking studies in a watershed in the Seattle, Washington area also found that nearly 20% of the bacteria isolates that could be matched with host animals were matched with dogs. This bacteria can pose health risks to humans and other animals, and result in the spread of disease.”
USA Today – Dog waste poses threat to water
“Studies done in the last few years put dogs third or fourth on the list of contributors to bacteria in contaminated waters.”
From VetCentric (a veterinary trade publication)
“Pet poop isn’t just an unsightly lawn ornament. It’s also a significant contributor to water pollution in our lakes and streams, and even in our drinking water.”