Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dogs Sniff Out and Back Track Sewage

Lake and beach pollution from human waste in and around Lake St. Clair has led to a lot of finger pointing, but too few solid conclusions as to sources. Are the sources faulty septic tanks, leaky municipal sewage pipes or overflowing retention-treatment basins?

Environmental Canine Services LLC uses dogs to sniff out human waste. The service reports completing 50 projects in 12 states, including 23 in Michigan. The idea was first studied and verified in Santa Barbara, CA six years ago.

Back-tracking human waste in this manner is faster and less expensive than unassisted sampling  and lab testing. Moving upstream, the dogs choose which fork to follow at the confluence of sewers, streams and ditches, leading more quickly to the source of pollution. Simultaneously, samples can be taken at each turn for later confirmation in the lab.

The time is long past due to apply rational process on this subject in place of political wrangling around Lake St. Clair, especially in the Clinton River watershed.