• 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

  • News

    Anchorage Police consider using body cameras

    by Eric Ruble on Oct 08, 20:25

    When new Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley officially takes the reins on Monday, he’ll be entering a changing landscape in the police department. Cameras are being installed on police cars, and the mayor is investing in a third police academy in the hopes of increasing the number of officers on the streets. Now, the Anchorage […]

  • News

    Jury convicts manager of XS Platinum

    by Lakeidra Chavis/KYUK on Oct 08, 19:28

    This story originates from KYUK Public Media and was published with permission BETHEL — A jury has convicted 57-year-old James Slade of violating the Federal Clean Water Act. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler made the announcement today after a two-week trial. Slade, who was Chief Operating Officer for XS Platinum during the events. He’s charged with […]

  • News

    Walker makes pitch for opening ANWR to Obama administration

    by Associated Press on Oct 08, 16:56

    Gov. Bill Walker has lobbied members of President Barack Obama’s administration on opening up parts of an Alaska refuge to oil drilling. Walker met with reporters Thursday after returning from Washington, D.C. Walker told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell his hopes of filling the trans-Alaska pipeline with oil drilled from a small section of the Arctic […]

  • Lifestyle

    YKHC gets $165 million loan from USDA-Rural Development for expansion

    by Manny Creech on Oct 08, 16:28

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development granted the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) in Bethel a $165 million loan. The loan will help build a new 129,600-square foot primary care clinic and remodel the existing 110,000-square foot hospital in Bethel, which serves the Yukon-Delta Region of Alaska. YKHC is one of the only health care providers […]

  • News

    Cuts are not on hold, says Army, but are under review

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 08, 16:21

    Force reduction cuts at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are not on hold, says Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Army. Reports have been circulating the cuts of 2,700 soldiers from JBER’s 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team have been put on hold, but Buccino says that’s not the case. ‘The planned force […]

  • News

    Delta flight turns back after striking bird

    by Associated Press on Oct 08, 15:57

    Officials with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport say a Delta Air Lines flight headed from Seattle to Hong Kong has turned back and landed safely after striking a bird. KIRO-TV reports that an alert was issued for flight 281 at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. It was over the Olympic mountains when it turned around and landed […]

  • News

    Unusually high number of sea otter deaths reported in Kachemak Bay

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 08, 15:56

    An unusually high number of dead and dying sea otters have been found in the Kachemak Bay area near Homer this year. Staff from the Alaska SeaLife Center and experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to figure out what’s killing off the otters at such a rapid rate. “More recently, animals […]

  • News

    Big Lake pilot killed in plane crash near Houston High School

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 08, 14:52

    The sole occupant of a small, single-engine aircraft was killed after their plane crashed near Houston High School, according to officials. Alaska State Troopers say family and friends at the scene identified the pilot as 23-year-old Joseph “Joe” Mielke, of Big Lake. Mielke was taking off from a nearby aircraft frame shop when the crash […]