Augusta Canal Intern Tackles Pet Waste Problem

Staff Report From Augusta CEO

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Augusta Canal often wins accolades as the best place to walk your dog. But all that love from pets and their people creates a problem when pet droppings are left behind.  Curbing this problem was the challenge Anslee Cannon was tasked to solve during her summer internship with the canal.   Cannon, who recently completed her degree in Public Health Education at Georgia College and State University, came up with a solution after studying the problem areas on the canal trail and researching approaches taken in other communities.

Her solution?  “Take a Bag-Leave a Bag” pet waste stations.  Pet walkers can bring their extra single-use plastic grocery bags,  place them in the top of the dispenser, or, if needed, help themselves to one from the bottom of the dispenser.   After studying several community and commercial systems, Cannon came up with her own design for bag dispensers- covered canisters made from PVC  pipe.  The dispensers are mounted on posts along with educational signs reminding pet walkers to pick up after their animals and keep them leashed. She and her brother, Preston, helped assemble and install the first unit at the Raw Water Pumping Station near the foot bridge in early August.  Two more are planned, one at the headgates area at Savannah Rapids Park and the other at the Lake Olmstead Trailhead.

Disregarded pet waste is more than just unpleasant; it is a public health hazard, according to Cannon’s research. The United States EPA states “dogs are significant contributors to source water contamination.”  This is of particular concern along Augusta Canal since it is a main source of public drinking water.  Although some may think pet waste is just a natural fertilizer, this is not the case due to its composition which is high in protein and acidity as well as containing possible parasites and bacteria, Cannon noted in her written report on her project.  

To help educate the public about this, signs at the pet waste stations read “Help protect our waterway and trails. Did you know dog waste: pollutes our city’s drinking water supply and watershed, disrupts our fragile ecosystem, and transmits diseases?  Don’t forget. Leash your dog. It’s the Law! “

“We hope the pet owner community will take ownership, use the dispensers and help keep them filled with bags,” explained Rebecca Rogers, the canal’s director of marketing and public relations, who supervised Cannon’s work over the summer.  “And hopefully, when folks see more people responsibly dealing with their dogs, it will encourage more people to do likewise.”