The Scoop on Pet Poop

puppy and kitten

We know they’re cute. They’re loyal and loving, and who can resist those adorable furry faces? But there’s another side to cuddly cats and dogs: the back side that produces poop pollution!

From Your Lawn to the Bay

According to the EPA, pet waste is a significant cause of water pollution.

When left on the ground, pet waste can be washed by water from sprinklers and rain into gutters and storm drains. Storm drains in our area are not connected to the sewer system; they funnel water directly into creeks, streams and the bay without treatment.

In water, the bacteria in decaying pet waste consume oxygen and release ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia can be harmful to aquatic life. Pet waste also contains nutrients that promote excessive weed and algae growth, making water cloudy, green, and unhealthy.

Perhaps most importantly, pet waste contains bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make water unsafe for swimming or drinking.

Dog eye roll

The Solution Is As Simple as 1, 2, 3

It’s easy to prevent pet poop from polluting our water environment. Just follow these three steps:

1. Pick it up
2. Put it in a bag
3. Put it in the trash (never in the yard waste or compost bins!)

Landfills are designed to handle that type of waste.

Can You Flush It?

Please do NOT flush pet waste.

• Out treatment plant was designed to serve the human population of central Contra Costa County, not accounting for pets. Right now there are nearly 470,000 people in our service area. We don’t know the pet population, but if 50% of our customers have one pet, that’s about 235,000 additional little (or big) poopers. If all that pet waste were to be flushed, it would put an additional load on our system and could make it more difficult for our treatment plant to treat the human waste for which it was designed.

• Please do not flush Flush Puppies® or other brands of “flushable” dog poop bags. They may be biodegradable, but that doesn’t mean they dissolve quickly in water (one manufacturer admits this can take up to 96 hours). Even though they go down your toilet, they can clog sewer pipes!

What About Flushing Kitty Litter?


Typical kitty litter is made of clay. Clay mixed with water makes something close to cement which can clog your pipes. Even if it isn’t made of clay, nearly all litter is designed to absorb liquid, and when that happens, the particles expand; your pipes don’t. “Flushable” kitty litter may be more biodegradable, but can still clog your pipes. Sewer (and septic) systems just aren’t designed to handle kitty litter, no matter what it’s made of.

Aside from the litter itself, what’s in the litter – cat poop – may contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which can survive the treatment process and is known to kill marine mammals like sea otters. That’s why all cat litter sold in California is required to have a label warning people not to flush it down the toilet.

Put the litter into a bag, seal it, and put it in the trash.

One thought on “The Scoop on Pet Poop

  1. Good article. Hopefully people will begin to read and take care of their responsibilities when it comes to picking up after their animals. Also, besides the facts in your article, there are parasites, germs that can live in ‘dry’ poop for up to one month! So, when pet owners leave their poop out there on the lawn or in other places, they are making whole neighborhoods sick. Kids pick up that stuff on their shoes and they bring it indoors. (Good idea to have a “leave your shoes at the door” policy. Adults also step in the stuff when inconsiderate dog owners let their dogs poop right on the sidewalks. So, pet owners, get a grip and begin being responsible. Your health and everyone’s health is at risk. And you can stop the disease spread by picking up after your dogs .


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