In 2017, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) received an award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct phase II of the Pet Waste Education Campaign. This campaign is an effort to support the broader Pet Waste Management (PWM) Initiative, known as “Scoop That Poop,” launched in 2016 by Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE). To date, over 200 pet waste stations have been installed across more than 40 municipalities and homeowners associations (HOAs) through the PWM Initiative. The Pet Waste Education Campaign carried out by EFC’s Sustainable Maryland team was designed to offer outreach, education, and infrastructure support to increase awareness about the issue of pet waste pollution and to encourage residents to pick up their pet’s waste. The campaign was defined by four major strategies: 1) convening outreach activities focusing on pet waste and stormwater pollution, 2) developing and promoting bilingual outreach education material, 3) deployment of an asset management tool, and 4) identifying locations for and installing pet waste stations.
By the Numbers
EFC worked with seven municipalities for this phase of the campaign: Colmar Manor, Hyattsville, Fairmount Heights, Berwyn Heights, Seat Pleasant, Forest Heights, and Capitol Heights. Each municipality received support in identifying pet waste and stormwater management goals, had customized outreach and education plans delivered to them, and received up to 10 pet waste stations each – for a total of 70 pet waste stations! EFC assisted in identifying ideal locations for each station, then the municipalities took the installation of each station into their own hands. Following the installation of the pet waste stations, EFC distributed 100 copies of “Scoop That Poop” brochures and four “Scoop That Poop” car magnets to each of the seven municipalities, which were placed on DPW and code enforcement vehicles. During this project, the municipalities also received support through train-the-trainer sessions, where EFC staff convened and trained key staff, elected officials, and local Green Team members on best practices for talking to residents about pet waste management and stormwater pollution. EFC also worked with five HOAs during phase II: Village Green Mutual Homes Cooperative, East Pines Neighborhood association, Fox Chase I Civic Association, Riverdale RRC Community Association, and Avondale North Woodridge Citizen’s Association. These HOAs received assistance in identifying suitable pet waste station locations. A total of 16 stations were installed amongst the five HOAs.
Locally targeted outreach efforts were complimented with a county-wide Pet Waste Management Summit focused on pet waste and stormwater runoff pollution. Close to 50 attendees participated in this summit, which also provided a platform for phase I municipalities to share experiences and the value of pet waste education, stations, and ongoing monitoring efforts. EFC supported monitoring efforts throughout this project by working with the DoE to build out and enter pet waste station data into a monitoring application. During phase II, EFC was able to collect monitoring data from 13 stations installed in phase I.
Phase II culminated in the creation of an educational pet waste video. This minute-long video explains the harmful impact that pet waste can have on human health when left on the ground. Pet waste that is improperly disposed of can be carried away into local streams and rivers, where it decays and releases excessive nutrients that contribute to decreased oxygen levels. Pet waste bacteria can spread human diseases, making local waters unsafe to swim and fish.
Fortunately, proper disposal of pet waste is easy – especially when the right tools, such as pet waste stations, have been made readily available. Prince George’s County wants you to “Scoop That Poop” for more beautiful, healthier communities and cleaner waterways!