VILLAGE OF NORTH BAY, Florida. – We have long reported on the critical problem of pollution infecting all waterways in South Florida, leading to the rapidly deteriorating health of Biscayne Bay.
And while the biggest contributors are those deadly nutrients thrown out by our failing infrastructure, agricultural runoff, and dirty stormwater, did you know that uncollected pet waste is also to blame?
Many of us say we do, but the truth is that not all of us do.
It’s more than just a smelly mess, as these snickers can harbor tons of viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
In fact, according to the EPA, just two or three days of waste from 100 dogs can dump enough bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorous to force the closure of 20 miles of bay for swimming and other water activities.
“When pet waste is in the street or on the ground, it washes down the drain. And it can be a really important source of bacteria that can contaminate our water,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper.
Those who watch over our waters have been sounding the alarm for years.
“So what really hits Biscayne Bay may be like death per 1,000 cuts,” Silverstein said.
Biscayne Bay is at a dangerous tipping point: a flood of deadly nutrients from land-based pollutants is constantly being dumped into the watershed: sewage breaks, septic leaks, fertilizer and stormwater runoff, and yes, even pet waste doesn’t. collected.
“I don’t think residents realize the connection between pet waste and the nutrients that get into the bay,” said North Bay Village Commissioner Rachel Streitfeld.
Streitfeld is also on the Miami-Dade Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Board.
Last summer, when residents of North Bay Village complained that some neighbors weren’t picking up their pet waste, she decided to do something about it.
“We did ‘Scoop the Poop.’ We had a public service community engagement campaign to educate our residents about the really harmful impacts of pet waste when it’s left on the ground and not picked up,” Streitfeld said.
PSA videos were produced and signs were put up to drive the message home: pick up your dog’s poop. The health of our bay depends on it.
Miami-Dade Bay Area Director Irela Bague underscores why, no matter how far you think you are from the Bay or the Intracoastal, your dog’s poop can be deadly.
“Little nitrogen bombs,” he said. “Okay, that ends up back in our storm drainage systems or canals, and they discharge into Biscayne Bay.”
And that’s something that not enough puppy parents in South Florida realize.
“Even something as small as picking up your dog’s poop can improve the health of Biscayne Bay. Well, then this is one more reason to do it, right? Be a courteous neighbor and a good environmentalist. That sounds perfect,” said one resident, Ursulla Henninger.
North Bay Village will kick off its 2022 poop-free campaign on Sunday, April 24.
Miami Lakes will also launch its Responsible Pet Ownership campaign in early summer.
North Bay Village Scoop the Poop Campaign: https://northbayvillage-fl.gov/poopfreenbv/
Best Biodegradable and Compostable Pet Waste Bags: https://kdvr.com/reviews/br/home-br/cleaning-tools-supplies-br/best-biodegradable-dog-poop-bags/
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