City looking for pet waste station volunteers

By Oliver Lazenby

The path to cleaning up Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor is littered with dog poop – literally. It’s hard to walk the path along Cain Creek behind Edaleen Dairy without spotting a few dog turds, and Julie Hirsch, a consultant for the city of Blaine’s Drayton Harbor/Semiahmoo Bay Water Quality Enhancement project, says that’s a problem.

A 2008 study

Pet waste station. Photo by Oliver Lazenby.

by Washington State Department of Ecology found that Cain Creek requires as much as a 95 percent reduction in fecal bacteria to meet water quality standards.

Dog poop along the creek is low-hanging fruit in that effort, and the city is working on a plan to pick that fruit. Blaine currently has three pet waste stations – poop bag dispensers, basically – in the Cain Creek watershed, and plans to install 12 more near downtown Blaine.

But before they can be installed, the city needs volunteers who will maintain those stations.  Its looking for people or businesses to sponsor the stations; volunteers will pay $14 a month for garbage service and replenish bags when they run out. In return, they’ll get a plaque with their names on the stations, Hirsch said.

The city is hosting a meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14 at the Blaine Public Library to provide more information about the plan and gauge interest in the station adoption program.

“It’s not a really big commitment for businesses that serve pet owners or businesses that have a presence in Blaine,” Hirsch said. “Being able to partner with community is a way to do some educational outreach and it’s also is a model that has worked in Bellingham.”

The city would buy and install the stations with money from a Department of Ecology grant. If the program can find volunteers, the stations could be installed this summer, Hirsch said.

Blaine currently has three pet waste stations – one near Edaleen Dairy, one near the skate park and one at Skallman Park. Most of the pet waste stations are planned for locations along Cain Creek, but a few will be in Semiahmoo and a few nearer the shore of Semiahmoo and Drayton Harbors. They would be built in four phases, Hirsch said.

A single gram of dog poop contains an estimated 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, and other harmful pathogens including E.coli, giardia, salmonella and a variety of worms, according to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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