• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 27s

You have poop on your shoes

By KTVA Alaska 8:16 PM January 22, 2014

Chemicals and bacteria that seep into snow are tracked into homes and cars during breakup and breakup-like periods

ANCHORAGE – If Nicole Churchill is going anywhere, she’ll be walking to her destination. Thanks to what she calls unkind or oblivious drivers, she said she ends many commutes soaked with brownish water that pools along roadsides during breakup periods.

“They splash water all over you,” Churchill said.  “I know I was walking in the store the other day and I was soaking wet from head to toe.”

That dingy water can be dangerous, according to Anchorage Waterways Council Executive Director Cherie Northon.

“They’re chemical contaminants, there are bacterial and viral and all sorts of nasty things,” Northon said.

Beyond being an inconvenience, Northon said, getting splashed with that water can pose major health risks.

“There’s several different types of bacterias that we pull out in our water sampling and some of them are streptococcus, things that cause giardia,” Northon said.

Over the course of a winter, trash, oil, anti-freeze and other chemicals leaked from vehicles, such as de-icing agents that include everything from chloride to urine-based products, find their way into snow that melts into street slush.

“One of our biggest problems has to do with animal, pet waste, people not picking up after their pets,” Northon said.  We figure there are probably 20 tons of animal waste a day deposited in Anchorage.”

Pet owner Evan Lomeli said he sees the animal waste left in the snow every time he takes his dogs to the dog park.

“Some owners are better than others at picking up after their dogs,” Lomeli said. “If you walk around now, especially with the thaw, all the leftover dog poop is beginning to poke out now.”

Northon said it comes from dogs, cats, beavers, geese, moose, you name it — traces of animal feces can be found just about everywhere, including in street slush.

The areas with the most contaminated water include parking lots and areas pets frequent to relieve themselves like trail heads or dog parks, she said.

Unfortunately, Northon said, chances are you’ve already tracked this stuff into your car or home.

“That’s where your pets are going out right after breakup and they’re running through that and coming back and tracking it into your car,” she said.

To reduce the risk of getting sick in the future, Northon suggests minding where kid shoes and pet paws travel.

Like Ashley Huhndrof does with her dog Haru.

“I wipe off his paws really well, and sometimes if it’s really gross … and muddy I get a wet wash cloth that’s warm,” Huhndrof said.

Northon suggests people take off any clothing that comes in contact with the sullied water, but for people like Churchill who commute on foot, that isn’t always an option.

“I can’t just run home, so basically I just have to deal with it for the rest of the day,” Churchill said. “It’s horrible.”

Churchill hopes drivers will be more mindful of those on foot before breakup season arrives in the spring.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    Alaska House takes up crime bill on day 105 of session

    by Liz Raines on May 02, 22:52

    It’s been 15 days since the legislative session was supposed to be over. Members of House leadership say they have to pass a budget before gaveling out, but they spent Monday working on a different measure. Senate Bill 91 would revamp the way the state approaches criminal justice. Gov. Bill Walker and Department of Corrections […]

  • Politics

    Legislature pursues Wells Fargo office space, says current LIO is ‘off the table’

    by Liz Raines on May 02, 21:48

    The Legislative Council voted Monday to negotiate buying the Wells Fargo building on the corner of Minnesota Drive and Benson Boulevard in Anchorage at an amount not to exceed $12.5 million. Sen. Gary Stevens, chair of the council, said purchase of the downtown legislative information office is now “off the table” after Gov. Bill Walker […]

  • News

    Anchorage students raise money for victims of Ecuador Earthquake

    by Alexis Fernandez on May 02, 20:33

    A group of Anchorage middle school students is raising money for the people most affected by the recent earthquake in Ecuador. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 65o people in Ecuador’s northwest coast two weeks ago. Elizabeth Renteria’s Spanish class at Central Middle School is selling homemade bracelets for $1 as part of an ongoing […]

  • Sports

    Dimond High School hockey star signs to play college football

    by Jake Edmonds on May 02, 20:22

    When Chris Gardeline started playing hockey at eight-years-old, his goal was to one day make it to the college level. He never expected it would be on the gridiron. Gardeline was a goalie for the Dimond High School Lynx. After wrapping up his senior season on the ice, his football friends convinced him to join […]

  • Lifestyle

    Lasers replace traditional drills at local Anchorage dentist office

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 02, 20:05

    For some people, a trip to the dentist can be trauma inducing. Finding out you need a root canal or even a cavity filled isn’t fun, but what if you could have those procedures done without using needles or drills? One local dentist says it’s possible with lasers. Dr. Kirk Johnson has used lasers in […]

  • News

    Anchorage’s first food truck hub opens for summer

    by Shannon Ballard on May 02, 19:59

    Can’t decide where to eat for lunch? There are now several more options in downtown Anchorage. The city’s first food truck hub opened on Monday at the corner of Eighth Avenue and K Street. Known as “K Street Eats,” many vendors are hoping it will be boost to their business. Sugar House Waffles has been in […]

  • News

    Crews light fire to prevent fire on JBER

    by Bonney Bowman on May 02, 19:38

    Nearly 2,000 acres of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson land will go up in flames this week – all to prevent a potential wildfire this summer. Fire crews started the controlled burn Monday, setting fire to live-fire ranges in the Arctic Valley area. The ranges are like a tinderbox this time of year, full of dry grass […]

  • News

    Anchorage detox center temporarily suspends opiate addiction treatment

    by Alexis Fernandez on May 02, 19:22

    Alaskans addicted to opiates will have to wait a few days to detox in an inpatient environment. Alaska’s two opiate detox centers are suspended from accepting new patients after they learned through an audit that they haven’t been following a new federal regulation. Both the Gateway to Recovery Detox Center in Fairbanks and the Ernie Turner […]