Pondering pooch poop | SierraSun.com

Pondering pooch poop

Kyle MaginSun News Service

When dogs are outside and they need to go, they go. On the beach, on your lawn, your neighbors lawn, the street, the hiking trails and pretty much everywhere in between.They go so much, that according to Madonna Dunbar of the Incline Village General Improvement Districts Waste-Not program, dogs drop 14 tons of feces in Incline Village each year.That number is unacceptable, said Dr. Paul Guttman.Thats way too much for the Basin to absorb each year, and were a major dog community, so we need to figure out what to do with all of this, Guttman said. The crap gets absorbed into the ground and can run off into the lake, which can lead to algae blooms and damage clarity.Canine feces does not only effect Lake Tahoes clarity, but also accounts for a variety of human health issues, said Dennis Oliver of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The likelihood of waste posing a threat to humans depends on the volume of dogs actually doing their business. But Oliver said because North Lake Tahoe is known to be a haven for hounds, contamination in wells and watersheds could raise concern.Unfortunately, even responsible owners who bag their poochs leavings and toss them in the trash run the risk of the feces sitting in a plastic bag for years while the bag biodegrades in a landfill, which can lead to the droppings absorbing into the ground and possibly contaminating the water supply, Guttman said.Dog feces dont break down well and they can transmit bacteria and diseases like e-coli and heartworm. Everything about the current method is, excuse the pun, crap, Guttman said.Since dogs arent going to use a cat box anytime soon, Guttman has devised another plan to take care of the situation that beats bagging canine poop and throwing it away.Dr. Pauls Poop Pails is a solution Guttman has been testing with Dunbars help. The concept is simple and workable, Guttman said. It requires biodegradable bags used to scoop the poop and large buckets posted in Incline Village in which to drop the filled bags.The project hinges on a black, corn starch-based bag, which Guttman has been testing using his own dog. He said the bag works well and breaks down easily in nature.Its an extremely inexpensive solution, Guttman said, adding the bags cost mere cents. Were still doing the science, but if we can get people to cooperate I think it can work. Dog owners are generally in close proximity to their animal when they do their business, so it requires just a simple change in habit to pick up and dispose of the waste.After the dog has pooped and that poop finds its way into a bag, Guttman said the bag will assist in breaking down the waste in a landfill.Getting it into the wastewater treatment system is ideal, and I think the bags are a wonderful solution, but it wont work if people dont want to do it, Oliver said. Ultimately, anything people can do to keep drainage through the watershed clean of foreign particles will have a positive effect on the lake.The Sierra Suns Jenny Goldsmith contributed to this article