Pet waste seriously contributing to pollution problem affecting Biscayne Bay

NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. – We have long been reporting on the critical pollution problem infecting all South Florida waterways, leading to the rapidly declining health of Biscayne Bay.

And while the biggest contributors are those deadly nutrients spewing from our failing infrastructure, agriculture run off and dirty storm water, did you know that un-picked up pet waste is also to blame?

Many of us say we do it, but the truth is, not all of us do.

It’s more than just a smelly mess as these lawn snickers can harbor tons of viruses, bacteria and parasites.

In fact, according to the EPA, just two to three days of waste from 100 dogs can spew enough bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus to force the closing of 20 miles of the bay to swimming and other water activities.

“When pet waste is in the street or on the ground, it gets washed down the drain. And it can be a really major bacteria source that can pollute our water,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper.

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Those watching over our waters have been sounding the alarm for years.

“So what’s really affecting Biscayne Bay can be like death by 1,000 cuts,” Silverstein said.

Biscayne Bay is at a dangerous tipping point: an onslaught of deadly nutrients from land-based pollutants is constantly spewing into the watershed — sewage breaks, septic leaks, fertilizer and storm water runoff, and yes, even un-picked up pet waste.

“I don’t think residents realize the connection between pet waste and nutrients going into the bay,” said North Bay Village Commissioner Rachel Streitfeld.

Streitfeld also sits on Miami-Dade’s Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Board.

Last summer, when North Bay Village residents complained about some neighbors not 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 left on the ground and not picked up,” Streitfeld said.

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PSA videos were produced and signage went up to drive the message home — pick up your dog poop. The health of our bay depends on it.

Miami-Dade’s Chief Bay Officer Irela Bague underscores why, no matter how far away you think you are from the bay or the intracoastal, your dog’s poop can be deadly.

“Little nitrogen bombs,” she said. “Ok, that ends up into our storm drain systems again or in the canals, and they get flushed into Biscayne Bay.”

And that’s something not enough South Florida pup parents realize.

“Even something as little as picking up your dog poop can actually improve the health of Biscayne Bay. Well, then this the 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 be launching their responsible pet owners campaign by early summer.

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North Bay Village will kick off its 2022 poop free campaign on Sunday, April 24. (WPLG)

ADDITIONAL INFO

North Bay Village Scoop the Poop campaign: https://northbayvillage-fl.gov/poopfreenbv/

The best bio degradable & compostable pet waste bags: https://kdvr.com/reviews/br/home-br/cleaning-tools-supplies-br/best-biodegradable-dog-poop-bags/

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Clean Up After Your Pet poster (WPLG)

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