Clean Up After Your Pet

The City of Fort Atkinson is nestled within the Rock River Basin, where one of the biggest concerns is excess algae and plant growth. Phosphorus, a plant nutrient, causes this ugly and dangerous growth. In the Rock River Basin the largest source of algae-producing phosphorus comes from agriculture, primarily from animal manure either washing directly into streams and rivers, or washing off of farm fields.

Other sources include phosphorus being discharged at their permitted rate from wastewater treatment plants or from industry, but it can also come from sewage overflows during large rains. Of course, in cities it can run off of over-fertilized lawns. That's one reason Wisconsin will have a restriction on the excessive application of phosphorus fertilizer starting next year.

But what about a hidden source? A source often overlooked - until you step in it - that's right, from the leavings of our best friend, the dog.

Don't think dog pooh can possibly be much of an issue?

Studies show that 35% of all dogs who are walked are never picked up after. Once the dog 'goes' in the street there is nothing to stop that disgusting waste from being washed down the street to the stormdrain and out to the Rock River.

Still don't' think that's much of a problem? Well in our City we have an estimated number of 2500 dogs who are walked and aren't picked up after.

This adds up to a whopping 18.8 tons of dog feces washing off of the streets, down the storm drain and into the Rock River. Even if just one percent of the dog waste washes off, that's still 1.9 tons of dog waste flowing into the Rock River every year from just our city. Now imagine this waste flowing off the roads from all the dogs that aren't picked up after in the entire Rock River Basin. That's 8.6 million pounds of dog waste flowing into the Rock. - Amazing!

Not only does dog waste help cause excess algae growth, dogs can be a major source of pathogens in urban watersheds. Many dogs carry salmonella and the parasite Giardia and all dogs release coliform bacteria: 23 million bacteria/gram of waste.

So do your doody. Picking up after your pet is a very simple step to help protect our rivers and streams.

In the City of Fort Atkinson dog waste can be disposed by burying or flushed or it can be bagged and placed in your trash container

Brought to you by the "Clean Water. Bright Future." campaign of the Rock River Stormwater Group, of which the City of Fort Atkinson is a member