• 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

    House passes state budget with CBR funding

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 30, 0:49

    Sometime around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, Alaska’s House of Representatives passed the 2016 operating budget 32 to 8, with the minority Democrats split and Rep. Lora Reinbold voting no. In a vote of 39 to 1, the House also voted to use the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) to fund the budget; again Rep. Reinbold voting […]

  • Politics

    Legislative Update: Still no budget as debate continues

    by Kate McPherson on May 29, 22:59

    KTVA 11 News’ Kate McPherson was at the newly renovated LIO building to listen in on the continuing debate over the state’s 2016 budget. Contact Kate McPherson at kmcpherson@ktva.com

  • Sports

    Former student gives back to East High School in big way

    by Dave Leval on May 29, 22:55

    Dr. Eugene Chang says he is grateful to East High School for what he has accomplished in his life. He’s taken a huge step to repay his gratitude: The orthopedic surgeon and his wife donated $143,000 to the school, which will use the money to pay for a new scoreboard. The scoreboard is needed in […]

  • News

    Sneak Peek: New visitor center welcomes Kenai adventurers

    by Dave Leval on May 29, 22:27

    The grand opening for the Kenai Wildlife Refuge’s new visitors center is scheduled for Saturday, May 30, at 1:30 p.m. The $9 million upgraded facility will replace the old visitors center next door, and offers visitors a chance to explore habitats in Alaska in the exhibit “From Ice Fields to Oceans.” “It’s hard to really […]

  • News

    Anchorage stylist ‘pays it forward’ with free haircuts

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 29, 22:13

    An Anchorage hair stylist is “paying it forward” by offering free haircuts to people in need. So far, Joseph Williams has given more than 30 haircuts at his business, Karma Cuts, and has no plans to stop. Williams says the philosophy behind the idea is pretty simple: “You put out the good and you get good […]

  • Weather

    Evening News Weather, May 29

    by KTVA Weather on May 29, 20:05

    Kenai Peninsula/Prince William Sound Sunny and warmer. Near-record temperatures for some south central locations.   Southeast Decreasing clouds with patch fog in the morning as the ridge of high pressure continues to bring quiet and stable weather.   Interior/North Slope Mostly sunny with patchy morning fog except for northern areas like Fort Yukon where there […]

  • News

    From rescued to rescuer: Alaska search and rescue volunteers give back

    by Elizabeth Raines on May 29, 20:05

    Brian Aho knows a thing or two about hiking and climbing. He’s been doing it since he was a kid, when he used to take trips with his dad and younger brother in the back country. “We would sit down and pull out the maps, get a pencil out, and we’d go through the whole […]

  • News

    Lifeguards ask parents’ help to keep watch over their children in Alaska’s waters

    by Shannon Ballard on May 29, 19:23

    On days as nice as Friday, Anchorage resident Maggie Eisert says taking her kids to Jewel Lake is the routine. “We have to take advantage of the nice, warm — well, what we would consider hot — weather,” Eisert said. Jewel Lake is one of only two manned beaches in Anchorage. Lifeguard Morgan Brown says the […]