Clean Up for Cleaner Water


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No matter where you call home, you live in a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common water body, such as rivers, lakes, and our ocean.

80% of the trash and litter found in our oceans travels there from inland locations. Placing pet waste in a covered trash can prevents it from being washed into our storm drains by the rain.

When water flows through our watersheds, often because of rainfall or storms, it may pick up pollutants before entering our storm drains, which then empty into water bodies. Many people are not aware that the water draining from the watershed is untreated as it enters our storm drains, which means pollutants from runoff—including trash, chemicals, and more—can contaminate our rivers, lagoons, and the ocean.

There are simple things we all can do every day to help keep the water runoff from our homes, parks, and communities free of pollutants. As pet owners, in particular, we can make a big difference by cleaning up after our furry friends.

Pick Up the Poop

Pet waste contributes to pollution in our local waterways, harming aquatic life and degrading the health of our inland and coastal waters. Here are some tips for pet owners who want to do their part to keep pollutants out of our storm drains:

• Pick up after your pets.

Whether you are at home, at the dog park, or on a walk, always carry pet waste baggies to clean up after your pet.

• Place pet waste in covered trash receptacles.

Did you know that 80% of the trash and litter found in our oceans travels there from inland locations? Always pick up your pet’s waste and place it in a covered trash can to prevent it from being washed into our storm drains by the rain.

• Dispose of flea medication properly.

Flea products, such as shampoo, medication, and collars, contain harmful chemicals that can contaminate our waterways. That’s why it’s important to dispose of these products at a dedicated hazardous waste site instead of putting them in your household garbage. Never flush your flea products down the drain. And speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of switching to oral flea medication.

• Bathe your pets indoors.

When we bathe our pets in sinks or bathtubs, or we have them professionally groomed, the wash water goes down into the sewer system, where it will be treated before it reaches the ocean. If bathing your pet outdoors is the only option for you, try bathing them on porous ground that will absorb the runoff, and be sure to use non-toxic shampoo.

Want to Do Your Part?

Project Clean Water in San Diego, California, serves as a resource for both government agencies and the general public that promotes supporting clean water and healthy communities. They believe that we all deserve clean water and together we can make it happen.

In addition to the tips mentioned in this article, we invite you to learn more about what you can do to keep our communities healthy by signing up for the 52 Ways to Love Your Water action pledge. Each week, a new action is revealed on social media, and you will receive a weekly action newsletter that provides additional context on the topic.

Take the 52 Ways to Love Your Water action pledge today at

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Chelsea McGimpsey
Chelsea McGimpsey
Chelsea McGimpsey is the Program Coordinator for the Watershed Protection Program at the county of San Diego Department of Public Works.


  1. Thank you for sharing the article “Clean Up for Cleaner Water” on your website. It is inspiring to see the emphasis placed on the importance of responsible waste management and its direct impact on water quality. The article highlights the need for collective action to protect our waterways and create a cleaner environment for both humans and animals.

    The focus on raising awareness about the potential harm that pet waste can cause to water sources is particularly noteworthy. Many pet owners may not realize the significant impact that improper disposal of pet waste can have on water quality. By educating readers about the importance of picking up after our pets and disposing of waste responsibly, you play a vital role in promoting responsible pet ownership and environmental stewardship.

    I appreciate how the article provides practical tips on how pet owners can contribute to cleaner waterways. From using biodegradable pet waste bags to participating in local cleanup initiatives, these suggestions empower pet owners to take proactive steps in reducing water pollution. By implementing these simple changes, we can collectively make a positive impact on our environment and protect the health of our water sources.

    In addition to the insightful tips, it would be beneficial to include information about the potential health risks associated with contaminated water sources. Highlighting the consequences of water pollution, such as the spread of waterborne diseases or the negative impact on aquatic ecosystems, can further underscore the importance of responsible waste management practices.

    Furthermore, it would be valuable to provide resources or links to local organizations or initiatives that focus on water conservation and pollution prevention. This can help readers connect with local efforts and get involved in community clean-up events or educational campaigns related to water quality.

    Overall, “Clean Up for Cleaner Water” is a timely and informative article that highlights the responsibility we all share in protecting our waterways. Thank you for raising awareness about the impact of pet waste and providing practical solutions for pet owners to contribute to cleaner water sources. By working together and implementing these small but significant changes, we can create a cleaner and healthier environment for ourselves, our pets, and future generations.


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