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Pet waste largest contributor of E. coli in James River

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Posted at 7:26 PM, Aug 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-10 19:28:00-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Martin Rubenstein always remembers to bring a bag when taking his dog for walks.

As a pet owner, he knows it's his responsibility to pick up after his dog when she goes to the bathroom.

"We don't need to have other people who don't have a pet be responsible for your pet's duties," he said.

Martin said it can be frustrating to see pet waste while out, but according to the Department of Environmental Quality, it's not just an annoyance but a health issue.

The DEQ said pet waste is one of the largest contributors of E. coli in the river.

"Pet waste is a huge issue," said Amber Ellis with the James River Association, "one of the main things facing the James River is kind of the storm water runoff. When it rains all of the stuff that it's picking up is washing into our waterways."

The James River Association is an organization that works hard to keep the water clean.

To help put a stop to the problem, she said they've made plans to install 30 pet waste stations in the area.

There are 15 in Chesterfield County that have been installed, and there will be 15 in Richmond.

The stations have bags for owners, as well as trash bins to help make it easier to pick up after your pet.

"That pet waste contains tons of bacteria that we don't want for our kids and other dogs to be walking through, coming in contact with, and we don't want that washing off into our waterways," said Ellis.

After learning about the contamination Martin said he hopes other pet owners will take the time to pick up after your dog, no matter how much of a rush someone may be in.

"I think it's the most important thing we can do," he said.