How we maintain our properties and manage our daily activities can affect the quality of our drinking water and local swimming and fishing areas. Many of our daily activities have the potential to cause stormwater pollution, and small sources of pollution can create large water quality problems. Pet waste is one of those small sources.
In the City of Fort Lauderdale, cleaning up after your pet is the law, and there are important reasons why. The risk of stormwater pollution increases when pet waste that accumulates in animal pen areas or that is left on sidewalks, streets, swales or driveways is transported to water bodies. Rainwater collects and carries pet waste, and other potential pollutants, from every street, parking lot, sidewalk, driveway, yard and garden into a storm drain or catch basin that drains to the nearest body of water.
Droppings from dogs, cats and other commonly kept animals, such as exotic birds, rabbits, goats, and chickens that reach water bodies can impact the natural balance in a variety of ways:
- Pet waste contains nutrients that can promote the growth of algae in streams, lakes, and estuaries. Algae absorb oxygen in the water that fish and other aquatic animals need to live.
- Animal droppings contain intestinal bacteria and disease-causing parasites that can make nearby lakes and bays unsafe for fishing, wading, and swimming after storms.
- In areas with very porous soils or geology, such as South Florida, pollutants such as pet waste can also reach groundwater. As a result, pet waste should not be used as a fertilizer or hosed into the ground.
- Pet waste that is not picked up and properly disposed of is more than a nuisance; it pollutes local waterways. Stormwater or any other water runoff carries abandoned pet waste to storm drains that discharge into waterways. This can lead to beach closures, public health and environmental issues.
Proper disposal of pet waste helps prevent stormwater pollution, keeps our waterways healthy, makes neighborhoods more inviting for those who enjoy outdoor walks and is respectful of other people’s property. In much the same way that small sources of pollution add up to become a larger problem, small efforts on your part can add up to become a component of the overall solution to improve the quality of our water sources. See our Pet Waste Guidelines for more information, and inquire about our Pet Waste Signage Program.