A push in Nevada to safeguard rivers is focusing on pet waste removal.
(AP) — RENO, Nev. — Pet feces that isn't cleaned up can harm rivers, creeks, and lakes, in addition to soiling your shoes. The Carson River Subconservancy District is also spreading the message that it is the responsibility of the owner to pick up their pet's feces.
According to Shane Fryer, the district's watershed program specialist, one dog poop isn't a major matter; it's a cumulative issue. You have a build-up of dog excrement; then we have a large rainstorm, which pushes a lot of nutrients into our waterways and streams. It's a major issue.
Two out of every five households, according to Fryer, own a dog. If each of those families had just one dog, the Carson River Watershed would have approximately 16,000 dogs.
According to a 2018 study published by the University of Washington's College of the Environment, the average dog excretes half to three-quarters of a pound of excrement every day, while only 60% of pet owners clean up after their pets.
There's a lot of poop lying about.
Pet waste, like pesticides, road salts, failing septic systems, and motor vehicle oil, is classified as a nonpoint source pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency, which classifies it alongside pesticides, road salts, failing septic systems, and motor vehicle oil as a pollutant that cannot be traced back to a single source.
"There are diseases and minerals in dog feces that might damage water if it seeps into our groundwater," Brenda Hunt, Carson River Watershed program manager, explained. "Those infections and nutrients are hazardous."
Excess nutrients can cause dangerous algal blooms in rivers, while pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, and nausea.
People frequently confuse wildlife and pet waste, according to Watershed Technician Kaylee Maples. Their nutrition is the biggest difference, she claims.
The fact that dog excrement is not biodegradable is due to the presence of meat. It doesn't degrade in the same manner that paper does. It's the same reason you shouldn't put meat in your compost bin: it makes the soil more acidic.
While not all dog feces is absorbed into local waterways, a significant part does if pet owners do not clean up, according to Hunt.
People who let their dogs' feces decompose in their yards may not aware that the waste can run into storm-water drainage systems during a strong storm. When individuals leave pet waste on the trails, whether bagged or unbagged, it seeps into groundwater or streams.
Over a 14-month period, more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of dog feces was left on a 9-acre (3.6 hectare) trailhead and recreation area, according to a 2018 University of Nevada, Reno research analyzing canine waste and water quality near Lake Tahoe.
And, with more people opting to spend their time outside during the winter, it's critical to raise awareness about the significance of properly disposing of pet waste, according to Hunt. We've got the pandemic, we've got more pets, and we've got more people going outside than we've ever had before. Pack it in, pack it out, and responsibly reproduce.
The Subconservancy District recently began a public awareness campaign, which included public service announcements, YouTube videos, and social media posts, to raise awareness of the issue.