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Calling All Pet Owners: Help Save Wilmington’s Water

The city of Wilmington Storm Water Management Plan indicates that the water in Wilmington is in pretty bad condition. The main reason for this might be more disgusting than you think.

The City of Wilmington Storm Water Management Plan indicated that in 2008, 38 percent of water quality stations around Wilmington were in good condition; 10 percent were in fair condition; and 52 percent were in poor condition.

In 2013, these numbers changed for the worst. The most recent Storm Water Management Plan indicates that 21 percent of the stations are in good condition; five percent are in fair condition; and 74 percent are in poor condition. The city has expressed concern for the amount of bacteria run-off due to pet waste in our community.

One of the great things about UNC-Wilmington is that it’s a pet-friendly campus. Due to the dog-loving university, many housing developments around campus have a large dog population. Apartment complexes including Mill Creek, The Reserves at Forest Hills, and Campus Walk have expressed a concern about dog waste not being attended to by their owners. While there are guidelines in most leases about being fined for not picking up after one’s animal and also multiple postings reminding pet owners to dispose of pet waste, owners are still leaving their pet’s waste behind. Many complexes even offer a waste bin and bags for pet owners to dispose the waste of their dogs.

This fecal matter has a very negative ecological impact in the city of Wilmington. According to the Wilmington Storm Water Services, bacteria and pathogens in pet waste wash directly into the storm drainage system and into our waterways. In fact, bacteria is the biggest source of water pollution in our creeks and waterways. Recreation and shellfish waters as well as drinking supplies become contaminated due to run-off of pet waste.

There are 33,800 dogs registered in New Hanover County. Each dog generates about ¾ pound of waste every day. That equals 12.5 tons of dog waste generated daily in New Hanover County. Although much of the waste is properly disposed of, most of it usually left behind. At this time there are no specific records about just how much waste is left behind in our area. When it rains, the runoff from the pet-waste polluted ground drains into our water systems and local bodies of water.

If you’ve ever seen a notice not to swim at the beach after a huge rain storm, this is why.

Pet-owners, being a caregiver for your four-legged friend is a great responsibility. Now you know the bigger responsibility that owning a pet brings forth, please contribute to the well-being of our community by picking up after your pet! Your pets health, your health, and your city depends on it.

For more information please take a look at this brochure provided by the City of Wilmington.

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