Ocean and lake beaches around the country get closed every year due to poor water quality from pathogens – disease-causing bacteria and viruses. One way that pathogens get into the water is from pet and wild animal waste being washed down storm drains when it rains. In most communities, storm drains discharge storm water directly into local water bodies. And, even if water does go through a wastewater treatment plant, heavy rainfall can overflow the system, allowing untreated wastewater to flow into rivers, lakes and the ocean.
Viewer Tip: About 80 percent of pollution in our oceans and lakes comes from the land. No matter where you live, you can help protect water quality at local beaches by always picking up after your pet on walks and in your yard. Dispose of waste in a trash can or flush it down the toilet. To help control waste from wild animals, don’t feed geese and other water fowl. This encourages flocks to hang around shorelines and stay put through the winter months.
(Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Beaches.” http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/beaches/index.cfm; Long Island Sound Study, “Sound Health: Status and Trends in the Health of Long Island Sound,” http://longislandsoundstudy.net/2010/12/sound-health-2010/)