STORMWATER STRAIGHT TALK: Picking up after dogs

  • Published
  • Robins Public Affairs

Pet waste attracts insects, it smells, and stepping in it can be annoying. It can be a health concern, as well. But did you know that pet waste can also affect water quality?

Pet waste is one of the many sources of pollution that can contribute to poor water quality. When it rains, pet waste on lawns, trails, sidewalks or in the street washes into storm drains. This pet waste contains harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli and fecal coliform, which can cause disease in humans making rivers and lakes unsafe for swimming and fishing.

In addition, pet waste in water bodies consumes dissolved oxygen as it decomposes and has the potential to release ammonia. Pet waste also contains nutrients that can cause excessive algae growth within water bodies. Low oxygen levels, ammonia and excessive algae growth can be harmful to fish and other organisms that live in the water.

The Robins Air Force Base Storm Water Management Plan states that the base shall perform “proper waste management practices [that] protect storm water quality by minimizing or eliminating improper disposal practices.”

Fortunately, cleaning up pet waste is relatively easy. Whether in your yard or walking your dog, you can easily pick up your pet’s waste using a disposable or biodegradable bag as a glove, turn it inside out, and tie it closed. Alternatively, you can purchase a device made especially for the task.

There are three main options for the subsequent disposal of your pet waste:

- Place it in a lidded trash bin in accordance with local ordinances. There are several pet waste stations in recreational areas around Robins.
- Flush the waste – not the bag – down the toilet. The water from the toilet goes to a sanitary sewage treatment plant at Robins for treatment.
- Bury it. Dig a hole 6 to 12 inches deep. Keep the hole away from vegetable gardens and nearby water bodies or wells. Microorganisms in the top layer of soil will break down the waste and release nutrients.

By keeping up with these simple acts, you can help keep Robins clean and safe.

For more information, call 478-222-2526.

Editor's note: Stormwater Straight Talk is a quarterly column intended to educate and inform base personnel and families about stormwater management.