The Real Poop: Is picking up dog poop the key to saving Puget Sound?

Last week we told you about the role between picking up dog poop and saving the Sound. Here’s more on the effort to keep poop from polluting Puget Sound.  

  For 20 years, Mike Sato has worked to save polluted Puget Sound, which despite its beauty needs as much fixing as the Florida Everglades or Chesapeake Bay. So when a new ad campaign was launched last week by a coalition of government agencies and nonprofit organizations to once and for all spur the public to do four simple things — including picking up dog droppings —  it was as if someone dropped a stinking load, judging by his reaction.

   It case you missed it, the Puget Sound Starts Here campaign features a poster of a dog stating, “I poop. You pick it up. Any questions?” It prods the public to do four simple things: pick up dog doo, fix oil leaks, stop using chemical fertilizers, and stop washing the car in the paved driveway (use a commercial car wash or do it on grass). As incentives, its web site provides discount coupons.

   “Picking up dog shit isn’t going build that sense of urgency and public constituency to save the Sound,” Sato, spokesman for People for Puget Sound, wrote in his blog post. “Cutting out the bull shit and getting down to the hard business of funding stormwater programs and changing land-use practices will.”   

     He had hoped the ad campaign “would get real.” He hoped it would show “we can’t continue business as usual with pollutants poisoning the Sound and its critters every time it rains,” Sato wrote in the blog.

   “I had hoped for a campaign that showed how cities, businesses and developers can reduce and eliminate storm water pollution. I had hoped to see a campaign that showed real people calling out for leaders to take real actions for the Sound.


  “Puget Sound needs a hard-hitting campaign that raises public awareness about the urgency of dealing with the storm water problem and builds a public constituency that will demand we change the ways we handle the water that falls on our land before it flows off to the Sound.”

  As we mentioned in our last story, the big question is whether the government will begin to require relatively simple building techniques to help absorb the extraordinarily dirty water that pours off parking lots, sidewalks, roofs, streets and other hard city surfaces.

  That is the greatest future threat to Puget Sound.

  “The most promising approach” to reining in stormwater pollution is so-called “low impact development,” the Seattle P-I reported, adding: “That includes ‘green roofs’ that soak up rainwater, ‘rain gardens’ that intercept water before it flows onto hard surfaces, cisterns, and porous pavement that allows rainwater to soak into the ground.” A Crosscut headline summed up the matter another way: “Restoring Puget Sound: It’s the land use, stupid!

   Dog poop… well, it’s bad. But it’s one bacteria-laden ingredient, if you will, in the swill pouring off streets and into drains.

   Sato’s blog post prompted reaction from Paul Bergman, communications director for Puget Sound Partnership, which is the agency the Legislature put in charge of directing the Sound’s rescue.

   “I am sorry you couldn’t find anything positive about all of the effort being put in by 300 organizations that have signed on to help move the Puget Sound Starts Here campaign,” Bergman wrote. “As we said at the event yesterday, this is only the beginning. We will be working hard to add more elements and take on the tough issues as we move forward. In this era of limited funding, we needed to get going with what we could now and will be working hard to move on all the critical issues as we get more funding.”

  Reached today, Sato struck a conciliatory tone in an e-mail that stresses his organization supports the ad campaign:

  “We can have differences in strategic approaches and tactics and it would have been a lot more constructive to have been included in development of the PSSH campaign and had the opportunity to ‘have one’s say,’” he wrote to the PostGlobe. “The campaign’s up and running now and we’re supportive— promoting the campaign front and center on our home page— because we want the Partnership to succeed. Succeeding entails being able to listen.”

5 Responses to The Real Poop: Is picking up dog poop the key to saving Puget Sound?

  • jeb:

    Sato’s comments are so contradictory – he blasts the efforts of the Puget Sound Starts Here campaign and then claims to boast it front and center. there is no wonder that there was a need for something like the Puget Sound Partnership to GET THINGS DONE in a meaningful way. The digs against efforts by anyone but People for Puget Sound are elementary at best. I’m sure if it were their idea, they would have loved it. and, those 300+ entities that pooled their resources, human and monetarily for this campaign had a say in it.

    the issue that ‘we’ve been there, done that’ doesn’t make the kick off a bad campaign. it’s stated quite easily that those who already know what to do, are doing it — and kudos to them. The serious problem is, the majority of people don’t know what they can do – and so they aren’t doing anything. the vast problems Puget Sound faces are too big for anyone to get if balled up into one message.

    i am slightly shocked, first amendment or not, that Sato, in his professional role finds it appropriate and articulate to write the way he does.

  • Sandy Beach:

    Get REAL. What a WASTE of $$$. Mike sounds just like a member of People for Puget Sound. This PARTNERSHIP is as MEALY as a DUWAMISH RIVER PERCH. If you want to get attention, start a fight! Mike should keep up the fight. Hardly toeing the company line he said what so many are THINKING. We are FED UP with the collective PROFESSION OF LOVE for the Puget Sound and the cooperative dumping, poisoning, polluting by government sanctioned operations, like CARELESS WASTEWATER DUMPING, PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE WATER, 200+ violations per year at wastewater plants, unchecked waterfront development. Did anyone see: Poisoned Waters, Frontline/PBS? The Sound is DYING, the ORCAS are dead and DYING, the salmon are DISAPPEARING and DYING, the seabirds have “flown away”, a nice way to say that they have DIED and the 300 organizations, with all their swagger decide to dispatch an army of schoolchildren to tell ppl to pick up icky doo-doo. Cute, quaint, planting the seeds for little soldiers for salmon. Awesome! We already pick up poo, those who don’t still won’t! Cats roam around and shit up the place 24-7; we don’t need VICTORIA to give us RAW SEWAGE, we dump it ourselves; CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS are PREVALENT, IN USE, and KILL organisms: RIGHT NOW a fish in the PUGET SOUND has MALE and FEMALE reproductive organs, b/c of pollution! Also, THE RATFISH IS THE PREVALENT SPECIES IN THE Puget Sound NOW. BUT DON’T tell the kids that! And don’t tell the TOURISTS that we are throwing ALASKAN SALMON around at PIKE PLACE MARKET, but PLEASE do enjoy the view of our big RATFISH basin.
    To be fair, even though he is SPOKESPERSON for People for Puget Sound, I gather he is FROM the Puget Sound, LOVES the PUGET SOUND and being from the wild Northwest, doesn’t consider “shit” a swear word. 🙂 We are not a bunch of patsies here, we SHOULD be PEOPLE who SAVE the SOUND. Don’t forget to pick up the doo-doo! La dee effin’ da. Better get the RATFISH on a TOTEM POLE pretty quick, b/c those KIDS won’t recognize the OLD HEREOS of the Pac NW…SALMON…GRIZZLIES…ORCA…DEER…Grey WOLF…SEA TURTLE…PEREGRINE FALCON…all THREATENED or ENDANGERED. There should be an IMMEDIATE EXECUTIVE ORDER.

  • Blue Light:

    Researchers at Oregon State University has determined that the number one impediment to saving PNW wild salmon (and the ecosystems on which they depend) is immigration into the region; the vast majority of which comes from outside the US and Canada. Until the PSP puts immigration on the table, they are just another politically-correct appointed committee talking around the edges. How long will we allow the agency tasked with solving the problem to ignore the primary issue?

  • Maggie:

    Have you seen the litter in the streets? The holes they dig in the ground and pour cement in? Have you dived by Alki’s overflow pipe? Of course we all know that we are trashing the place, paving over the ecosystem and flushing our waste where no one can see. These children may pick up poo today, but we’ll be fattening the dogs for slaughter tomorrow.
    Unfortunately this is just the scenario some people want, such as Dominion Theologist and King Cty. hopeful Susan Hutchison. She thanks you for bring water pistols to the torching party!

  • Brian Wegener:

    I walked through a new housing development in Pacific City Oregon today. The storm drains on the new street were marked “Dump no waste – drains to ocean.” Why is anyone still allowed to put drains in streets that drain directly to a body of water? It’s not the poop, it’s the pipes that are the problem.