Pet/Animal Waste and Stormwater

How Does Pet and Animal Waste Affect Our City?

When pet waste is improperly disposed of, it can be picked up by stormwater runoff and washed into storm drains or nearby waterbodies.

Since storm drains do not always connect to treatment facilities, untreated animal feces often end up in lakes and streams, causing significant water pollution. It affects the quality of life for Lakeland community in many ways including, not limited to:

  • Decaying pet waste consumes oxygen and sometimes releases ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia can damage the health of fish and other aquatic life.


  • Entering our stormwater system through storm water runoff, which eventually ends up polluting our drinking water system and causes more expense in the treatment of our drinking water.
  • Introducing bacteria and parasites into our environment that is harmful to humans. One such pathogen that directly impacts Lakeland is called Esherichia Coliform (E. Coli). It has been found in our creeks.
  • Increasing the amount of nutrients in our water and ecosystem to toxic levels.
    • Pet waste is high in nutrients, which feeds the weeds and algae in our creeks and lakes causing excessive growth.
    • This excessive growth makes the water cloudy and green, which is unattractive and an indication of a decline in water quality..

In 1991, dog waste was labeled as a contaminate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), placing it in the same category as herbicides and insecticides; oil, grease, and toxic chemicals; and acid drainage from abandoned mines.

What is the City of Lakeland Doing?

The City of Lakeland addresses pet and animal waste from the minimum control measures set forth in our Stormwater Management Plan. The table below describes in further detail how each measure is being met with best management practices (BMP).

Minimum Control MeasureBest Management Practice Activity
Public Education and Outreach Distributing information about pet waste with:
  • Lakeland Elementary School
  • Bi-Annual Lakeland Currents article (formerly Citywatch)
  • Stormwater Brochures to the community and homeowner’s associations
Public Involvement and Participation
  1. Installation of pet waste containers and doggie bags at City Parks.
  2. Creation of a Pet Waste Program that includes presentations at two homeowner’s associations annually about pet waste and dissemination of information.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination 
  1. Storm Sewer System Field Inspections.
  2. Adoption of ordinances pertaining to illicit discharges, which includes pet waste.
  3. Installation of pet waste containers and doggie bags at City Parks.
Permanent (Post-Construction) Stormwater Management Program 
  1. Developing changes to existing ordinance pertaining to pollutant removal to meet TDEC requirements.
  2. Annual inspections of privately owned stormwater systems.
  3. Review codes and ordinances addressing EPA Water Quality Score.
Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
  1. Clean out of 20 percent of Lakeland’s storm sewer inlets with high debris content each year.
  2. Training of city employees on the need for cleanliness of maintenance yards.
  3. Installation of pet waste containers and doggie bags at City Parks.

What Can You Do?

There are many things you can do as an individual, family, and community to help reduce the pet and animal waste in Lakeland.

  1. When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. According to the EPA, flushing pet waste is the best disposal method.
  2. Pick up pet waste in your yard. It is NOT a fertilizer. The EPA has labeled dog waste a contaminant. 
  3. Bury pet waste in the yard, at least 6 inches deep and cover with soil. It will decompose slowly. However it is important to bury it in several different locations in the yard and keep it away from vegetable gardens.
  4. Keep livestock away from streambanks and provide them a water source away from water bodies.
  5. Store and apply manure away from waterbodies and in accordance with a nutrient management plan.
  6. Rotate animal grazing to prevent soil erosion in fields.

For more information about reducing pet waste in Lakeland, look at the Lakeland Pet Waste Brochure.

Bacteria Information

For detailed information, visit the EPA fact sheet on pet waste management.

Lakeland’s Watersheds

Learn about Lakeland’s watersheds by visiting the Lakeland’s Watersheds page.