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.”