Fall 2012

by Mike Cawrse, Stormwater Eng Technician

Yep, I’m talking about pet waste. Dog poop. Cat feces. We’ve all come across it, at one time or another. On the sidewalk, at the beach, in our gardens, on our SHOES! But is it really that big of a problem? Absolutely. There are approximately 160,000 dogs in Snohomish County, and they produce the same amount of waste as about 40,000 people (the population of Edmonds).

drain1So each time it rains, any pet waste left in your yard or on the sidewalk or at the park is picked up by stormwater and washed into storm drains. It then goes into underground drainage pipes, and is eventually discharged, untreated, to our creeks, Lake Ballinger, and Puget Sound.

And don’t forget that pet waste is raw sewage, and contains harmful organisms (including roundworms, E. coli, and Giardia) that can make children sick and contaminate soil and water. Pet waste is one of the leading causes of surface water contamination, contributing excess nutrients as well as disease causing organisms.

please respect signsAnd if you need another reason to pick up your pet waste, it’s a violation of City of Edmonds Municipal Code to leave your pet’s waste in public areas. Chapter 5.05.070 Public Safety/Animal Control specifies that it is unlawful for animal owners to allow their pets to deposit waste in public areas, unless that waste is picked up immediately. Additionally, pet owners need to be prepared to pick up any pet waste that might be left in a public area by pets. This means that at the least, when walking your dog or cat, you need to have in your possession a bag or other means of disposal for the pet waste. For a little fun (and to learn some hip hop moves), check out the Dog Doogity video at www.scooppoop.org. And when you’re done, don’t forget to wash your hands!!

Once you have your pet waste in a bag, what should you do with it? The best way to protect neighbors and surface waters is to simply throw the bag in the trash. Once the bag gets to the landfill, it’s contained and monitored along with the other trash. This keeps the pet waste out of our local water bodies. Here are some traditional disposal methods that are less effective in keeping pet waste out of our surface waters:

·         Flushing – this method of pet waste disposal is less practical (picture yourself carrying a bag, or better yet a shovel, of pet waste into your bathroom).
·         Composting – yard waste bins don’t get hot enough to kill harmful bacteria, and this creates contaminated compost.
·         Burying – some bacteria in the pet waste can become established in the soil (and last up to 4 years!!) and this can result in both pathogens and nutrients
        getting into streams. It’s also a lot of extra work!

What should you do if you’re out of pet waste bags and Fido wants to go for a walk? Head out to one of the 8 locations in Edmonds where pet waste bags are supplied by our Parks and Recreation Department (see below). You can also take your pet to Off-Leash Area Edmonds, located south of Marina Beach Park, which is maintained by volunteers (visit www.olae.org for information).

Locations of pet waste bag dispensers in City of Edmonds Parks
·         Sunset Avenue (between Bell St and Caspers St) - 1 dispenser at each end of Sunset Avenue N.
·         Edmonds City Park (600 3rd Ave S) - 1 dispenser at trail entrance to southeast wooded area.
·         Yost Park (9535 Bowdoin Way) - 1 dispenser in upper parking lot near playground and 1 near pool service road/inner trail access.
·         Pine Ridge Park (20330 83rd Ave W) - 1 dispenser near north parking lot at gate/trail access.
·         Hickman Park (23700 104th Ave W) - 1 dispenser in SE corner of park.
·         Mini Park (131 Sunset Ave) - 1 dispenser on north edge of park just off sidewalk.
·         Hutt Park (92nd Ave and 187th Ave SW) - 1 dispenser near south entrance off 187th.
·         7th & Elm Park - 1 dispenser in center of park near road.

waste bagRemember, pets don’t have thumbs, so they need us to pick up after them!!

One more tip: Don’t use biodegradable plastic bags for pet waste! – Save them for your food waste which is properly composted. Once in the trash, the pet waste goes to landfills that are designed to work without oxygen, so the biodegradable bags won’t breakdown. Instead, use recycled plastic bags.

Questions or comments? Contact Patrick Johnson, City of Edmonds Stormwater Technician, at (425) 771-0220 x1322 or pat.johnson@edmondswa.gov

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