The town's DPW is trying to lessen the amount of dog waste in the town's waterways.

Braintree dog-owners who do their part to keep pet waste out of the town’s bodies of water can win prizes for their efforts as part of an initiative through the Department of Public Works’ newest division.

From now until June 30, Braintree residents can email photos of their dogs with the subject “#ScoopThePoop in Braintree” to stormwater@braintreema.gov to be entered into a drawing. The winner of the drawing will receive a rain barrel. Ten runner-ups will be given a Braintree Stormwater pet waste bag dispenser.

The contest is meant to encourage dog owners to always pick up their dogs’ waste when out for walks.

Julie Sullivan, the town’s Stormwater Outreach Coordinator, said in an email that there are more than 2,800 licensed dogs in Braintree. On average, each of these dogs produces about three quarters of a pound of solid waste every day, which contains an estimated 7 billion bacteria, she said. If their owners leave this waste on the ground, rain washes it into Braintree’s waterways, adding the bacteria to the water.

Bacteria found in fecal matter like E. coli and Enterococcus are the biggest contaminants in Braintree’s waterways, she said, and can have harmful effects on wildlife and humans alike.

The contest is being run through the DPW’s stormwater division, which was launched last year in an effort to have the town comply fully with the EPA’s MS4 Permit Program, a part of the Clean Water Act that requires the town to enact control measures aimed at lessening water pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Education and community outreach is one of those control measures, said Sullivan.

Sullivan said that many people assume that water that goes in storm drains is treated before flowing into the town’s waterways. But, storm drains actually connect directly to bodies of water.

“That means that anything that goes into a storm drain in town ends up in Braintree’s rivers, lakes, and streams,” she said.

Sullivan said she’s seen bags of dog waste in stormwater outlets in town, meaning that residents sometimes bag up their dog’s waste but then toss it into storm drains instead of throwing it away properly. The pollutes the town’s water with plastic and waste, she said, but it can also clog storm drains, which increases the chance of flash floods and can lead to expensive repairs.

“One of the biggest points I’d like to convey through the #ScoopThePoop campaign is that storm drains are not trash cans,” she said.

Follow Audrey Cooney at @Audrey_Cooney