PIMA COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The monsoon is here which is a perfect time to remember why it is important to pick up after pets. Pet waste can contain disease-carrying microorganisms and can transmit diseases to other pets, wildlife and even children.
How can a little pet poop end up contaminating our stormwater? There are thousands of dogs and cats depositing waste on the ground throughout the community. The waste from carnivores can be teeming with disease-carrying organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Just one gram of dog poop can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria! If ingested, this type of bacteria can affect health causing cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and urinary tract and kidney infections.
When it rains, the water picks up whatever contaminants are on the soil or in the streets and takes the pollution to washes and the desert where it can interfere with native plants and wildlife habitats. Children and dogs love to play in the stormwater and wildlife relies on it. Picking up after pets, can prevent E. coli and other organisms from negatively affecting the health of all who come in contact with stormwater.
Pet waste contamination of stormwater is a problem with an easy solution:
- Pick up what your pets leave behind and properly dispose of the waste;
- Work with your neighbors to encourage responsible pet ownership; and
- Install plastic bag holders and bins for proper disposal around your neighborhood.
Here are other ways to help protect the quality of our stormwater:
- Fix leaky vehicles;
- Use copper-free or low-copper containing brake pads;
- Harvest rainwater to water plants on your property so it stays out of the dirty streets;
- Don’t be a litter bug and pick up litter when you see it;
- Dispose of household hazardous waste properly;
- Apply pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer sparingly and minimize runoff – or use more earth-friendly ways to reduce pests and grow healthy plants.
More information about protecting stormwater quality is available at the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality's Stormwater Management Program or by calling (520) 724-7400.