The picture for this post could be considered avant garde art, but really it’s just dog poop. The photo definitely doesn’t qualify as aesthetically pleasing, but I wanted to take a moment to raise awareness about what eventually happens to dog poop that’s left on sidewalks and grassy patches in urban areas.
In Los Angeles and most coastal cities, a network of underground storm drains collects rainwater and funnels it into pipes that lead straight to the ocean. Rainwater runs over urban surfaces and picks up nasty pollutants as it rolls along, including dog poop. This toxic mixture of rainwater, chemicals, dog waste, trash and whatever else might be lying around on the ground is referred to as stormwater.
Wastewater is separate from stormwater and includes water used within your home, such as water that flows into your shower and sink drains and flushes down the toilet. This water runs through a separate network of pipes to a sewage treatment plant and is filtered and treated before being released into the ocean. (Except in areas like Malibu where septic tanks are used that leak raw waste into local waterways.) Unlike wastewater, stormwater is not treated and washes a disgusting mixture of urban waste into the ocean.
Now some dog owners might think that their dog’s pile of poop is no big deal, but it is! Close to 10 million people live in Los Angeles County. I couldn’t find statistics on how many people in Los Angeles County own dogs, but for the purposes of this example I guestimate there are two million dog owners. Now let’s be optimistic and say that 75 percent of dog owners pick up after their dogs (I doubt it’s that high), that still leaves 500,000 people not picking up their dog’s poop. That’s a lot of untreated waste ending up in the ocean. So please dog owners do your part to protect our ocean and pick up your dog’s poop!