Scooping poop improves water quality

Mar 9, 2020

Your pooch’s poop is more than a smelly inconvenience at the bottom of your shoes.

When pet waste is left on trails, in the woods or on the streets, it washes into rivers and lakes that supply drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies dog doo as an environmental hazard. The federal agency estimates that waste produced by just 100 dogs can contain enough bacteria to temporarily close a beach to swimming and fishing.

Dog poop is a non-point source pollutant, just like oil and toxic chemicals, that threatens water quality and public health.

“What they say right now is (that) animal waste is causing more pollution than human waste,” said Joan B. Rose, the Homer Nowlin chair in water research at Michigan State University.

That’s because human waste is managed with sewers, septic tanks, wastewater treatment plants, wastewater recycling and nutrient recycling, she said.

The problem with dog stool is that it can carry diseases that make water unsafe for drinking or swimming. It also contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, which encourage algae growth and make water unattractive for recreation, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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