by Joe’s Stream Team and the Mount Rainier Green Team

Joe’s Stream Team and the Mount Rainier Green Team have done our best to cover the importance of keeping litter out of our waterways. It’s important to be aware that all land litter has the potential to wind up as water, river, lake and stream litter. Most of the time, when you think “litter” you think of bags and bottles, but if we told you that dogs in the neighborhood are contributing to polluting land and water, would you believe it? There is nothing like going on a nice walk through the city or though nature with your pet. Dogs are just being dogs: we are relying on dog owners to help prevent a major issue.

Pollutants from improperly disposed pet waste may be washed into storm sewers by rain or melting snow. Storm sewers usually drain directly into our lakes and streams, carrying many pollutants along with the water. When pet waste is washed into lakes or streams the waste decays and uses up oxygen, sometimes releasing ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia combined with warm temperatures can kill fish and other marine animals. Pet waste also contains nutrients that encourage weed and algae growth. Overly fertile water becomes cloudy and green which is quite unattractive for swimming, boating and fishing. Importantly, pet waste can carry disease which make water unsafe for swimming or drinking.

When pet waste isn’t disposed of properly, your health may be at risk outside of our waterways as well. Pets, children who play outside, and adults who garden are most at risk for infection from some of the bacteria and parasites found in pet waste. Flies can also spread diseases from animal waste. There are various diseases or parasites that may be transmitted from pet waste to humans. So, when you pick up after your pet be sure to protect yourself as well!

Your pet’s waste may not be the largest or most toxic pollutant in urban waterways, but it is one of the many little sources of pollution that add up to a big problem. Fortunately, picking up pet waste is a simple thing we can all do to help keep the water clean. The next time you want to go for a nice walk with your pet, please enjoy it! Be aware and responsible and pick up after your pet. Not doing so would be a direct contribution to pollution to our neighborhoods, parks, and waterways.

Joe’s Stream Team is @JoesStreamTeam on Facebook and Instagram. The Mount Rainier Green Team meets on the second Monday of each month at the Mount Rainier Police Department from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. All interested citizens are invited to attend. For more information, meeting agendas and minutes, and an up-to-date calendar please or email