Clearwater, Florida Water Supply Shut Down Because of Dog Waste

It's important to pick up after your pup!
It is always such a pain to come home and find out that your water has been shut off. It's even worse when you accidentally drink water after a warning has been released to the area. Every time this happens, people are left in bewilderment, wondering what in the world could be going on.

On numerous occasions, in towns across the United States, water supplies have been shut down because of the day to day actions of the people in the town. What is the action? Not picking up doggy poop. WHAT? No way. Actually, it's true, and one of the premier examples comes from Clearwater, Florida.

Stevenson Creek
"Bill Basore walks out to the end of his dock and plunges a 15 foot-pole into Stevenson Creek. The tip of the pole sinks several feet into the chocolate-colored muck that lines the creek bed. Basore pulls it out. It stinks." - A description from Mike Brassfield's Tampa Bay Times Article

In the early 2000s, Stevenson Creek transformed into one of the most offensive bodies of water in all of Florida. What made it even worse was that it provided the drinking water -as well as other functions- for the local community. Throughout the body of water, there were reports of lifeless, overturned fish choking the surrounding air with a bitter smell.

Here's a picture of the Stevenson Creek clean up.

In the community, there were stories of misconduct and stories about a cover up of what was really going on. Many in the community believed that raw sewage was being dumped directly in the creek. However, the local sewage plant denied any wrongdoing, claiming that there had only been two minor spills in ten years. Then, what was it?

The Studies Show...
Well, the county went to work on finding the answer and concluded that fecal contamination was the main source of the problem. In a released study, University of South Florida professor Valerie J. Harwood- who was the leader of the research group that examined Stevenson Creek- stated, "Based on land use patterns in the waters studied, one could predict significant fecal inputs from wild animals, particularly birds and raccoons, and from dogs [have contaminated the creek]."

It turned out that much of the local community wasn't picking up their dog's waste, causing the rain to flood it into the creek. Dog waste, which has been identified by scientists to be abnormally toxic, seemed to be the largest contributor to this town's water supply downfall. The story became so intriguing that it was even picked up for a USA Today story entitled, "Dog Waste Poses Threat to Water."

Make Sure to Clean Up That Mess
The Clearwater, Florida incident is not the only report of water being contaminated by dog waste. Similar stories have come from Boise, Idaho; Arlington, Virginia; and a number of other areas. Because of this, many states have cracked down on laws requiring owners to pick up after their dog to keep this from happening. But, the law should be secondary. Not cleaning up after your dog can have a huge impact on your community and its water supply.

By: Tim Snyder
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