University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Management Practices: Domestic and Wild Animal and Avian Waste

Karen Filchak

Pets play an important role in the lives of many residents of Connecticut. They can also play a role in the quality of Connecticut's waters.

Pet waste contain contaminants such as pathogens and nutrients. Pathogens can cause illness. Nutrients can also present human health concerns as well as impact the health of our water resources. These contaminants are among those considered “priority pollutants” that contribute to water quality concerns for both surface and groundwater.

Pet wastes enter our water resources when they left on the land. When rain or snowfall occurs, a portion of the precipitation infiltrates into the ground. This process can result in the infiltration of the contaminants as well. In certain circumstances, this process can result in the contamination of groundwater, which may be providing drinking water to domestic wells.

In addition, the water, which does not infiltrate the soil, runs across the land surface. During this process, pollutants on the land are picked up and ultimately transported to a water system.

There are a number ways which pet owners can help reduce the risk of contamination presented by pet waste. Animal Waste and Water Quality provides suggestions to help residents manage pet waste concerns.