It’s kind of a messy situation: The North and South Rivers Watershed Association is calling on South Shore pet owners to clean up the waste from their four-legged friends.
The Norwell-based organization is distributing “Scoop the Poop!” cards to municipal offices, pet stores and veterinary clinics in a dozen towns across the region to raise awareness of the detrimental impacts of leaving pet waste on the ground and in sewers.
Pet waste is not a natural fertilizer, the organization said in a statement Thursday. Dogs are carnivores making their poop unsuitable for soil enrichment. The waste is more akin to sewage, the statement said, and has twice as much bacteria as human waste.
Lori Wolfe, a spokesperson for the Watershed Association, said leaving dog waste outside and in sewers allows it to seep into stormwater, which drains into bodies of water.
“It’s really unhealthy for dogs and the environment,” she said. “Dog waste has loads of bacteria that can make people sick, that can make dogs sick and that can end up in our water supply system.”
Wolfe lives in Hull and said she often sees people leave bags of pet waste out on the boardwalk. This isn’t just unsightly, she said, but also unsanitary.
Glenn Ferguson, a public works director in Norwell, said the town deals with pet waste on a weekly basis. Most owners are responsible and pick the waste up, he said, but when even a few people don't, it adds up.
“We find a lot of it thrown into the woods, we find a lot of it put down catch basins,” Ferguson said. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Ferguson said his workers spend a lot of time pulling pet waste out of catch basins, which isn’t their job, but is necessary because Norwell has small municipal agencies. This is also bad for the environment, he said, because the bags can clog drain pipes.
“It gets concentrated in these plastic bags, and a lot of these bags don't make it to a trash receptacle,” he said.
Braintree is running a #ScoopThePoop social media campaign during the month of June, said Julie Sullivan, the city’s stormwater outreach coordinator. Residents are encouraged to send in pictures of their dogs to the city to enter a raffle with prizes.
Sullivan said pet waste is one of the biggest contaminants of stormwater.
“We need to get it into people’s heads that a storm drain isn’t a trash can,” she said.
For more information, visit nsrwa.org or watersmartsouthshore.org.
Shaun Robinson may be reached at email@example.com.