COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Of course pollution is an ongoing issue, but one pollutant that transmits bacteria and parasites into our waterways, potentially effecting our health, might be overlooked. That pollutant is pet waste, and experts say it can create a problem when it is not disposed of properly.
"When it rains, that waste will wash into our streams and rivers or our storm drains," said Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler. "Eventually it'll get into the river, and it increases the bacteria and the nutrients."
It can also transmit parisites into that water. Dog feces are common carriers of many parisites including hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and E. coli. One of the most common parasites in dog wast is roundworm, which can remain infectious in contaminated soil and water for years. A recent CDC study found 14% of Americans tested positive for roundworms.
The environmental protection agency has estimated that even two or three days worth of droppings from a population of 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles to swimming and fishing.
"The best way to solve this problem of pet waste running off into our streams and rivers is for the individual pet owner to take responsibility and clean up after their animals," said Stangler.
If you're out and about with your pet, one way to keep from polluting the waterways is to bring a small bag with you and dispose that waste in a trash can at the end of your walk.
"It's actually a really simple solution to a problem we have here," said Stangler.