Thanks to all who filled out the stormwater survey! We appreciate your feedback immensely. Below you’ll find answers to some of the questions posed by survey-takers, and please check out our infographic that sums up the issue of stormwater pollution. We hope this information is helpful, and feel free to reach out with additional questions! The survey is still up and we would still love your responses.
1. Does dog poop really cause major pollution? I find it hard to believe!
Yes! It doesn’t seem like much when you’re only handling the poop of one or two pets. But there are over a million dogs in the Puget Sound region. In Seattle alone, dogs and cats produce around 50,000 pounds of pet waste per day. And that poop contains harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can make people and our waterways sick and polluted. A single gram of pet waste contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, and pet waste is one of the leading causes of bacterial contamination in streams. (Side note: We love dogs too! The solution is not fewer dogs, but responsible poop handling.)
2. What’s the best way to handle dog poop responsibly? What do you think of enzymatic, in-ground dog poop “digesters”?
We aren’t experts in this, and usually default to Seattle Public Utilities. They say pick it up and trash it. However, this excellent article quotes Aimee Christy, a shellfish biologist from Olympia who has spent a lot of time researching pet waste issues, and she recommends anaerobic digesters as another alternative. Do be wary of flushing the poop, as some wastewater treatment facilities can’t process it effectively (particularly cat waste). Also, biodegradable poop bags don’t do much good in landfills. The best option may be to find a public compost facility that is open to taking the waste, or advocate for commercial anaerobic digesters in your community. Don’t put pet waste in your home compost – it doesn’t get hot enough to kill some bacteria.
3. Is there funding available for landowners in Kitsap county to develop rain gardens on their private property?
Yes, there is! The Kitsap Conservation District can help. Landowners in unincorporated Kitsap County can receive up to $1,000 when they install a rain garden, as well as technical assistance setting it up. Contact Teresa Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org). For homeowners within incorporated Kitsap County or other regions around Puget Sound, check the website for 12,000 Rain Gardens, a partnership between WSU Extension and Stewardship Partners. They have extensive resources, including a list of areas where there are incentives in place to encourage rain garden installation.
4. How much do car leaks contribute to stormwater pollution?
Vehicles drip an estimated 7 million quarts of motor oil into Puget Sound and surrounding waterways each year, and petroleum represents over half of all toxic pollution entering the Sound in stormwater. Petroleum products and other car fluids are toxic to wildlife and people. Fixing car leaks, fueling vehicles properly, and taking measures to dispose of all hazardous material responsibly can go a long way towards keeping our Sound healthy!