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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Summer walks with the family dog are highlighting concerns about the Salt Lake Valley's watershed.
All but three canyons -- Emigration, Millcreek and parts of City Creek -- prohibit dogs, mostly out of concern for the waste they leave behind.
The canyons surrounding the Salt Lake Valley provide up to half of the water used by the city's 400,000 water customers.
"It's both practical and logical to prevent unnecessary pollution," said Florence Reynolds, water quality administrator for Salt Lake City.
It would cost four times as much to remove animal waste contaminants from water, Reynolds said. Each of the city's three canyon water treatment plants would need about $20 million in improvements and operations costs would rise, she said.
"We're water-limited, and people seem to forget that," Reynolds said.
Sandy Wingert, who monitors bacteria in the state's waterways for the state Division of Water Quality, is looking at how much of the problem is from faulty septic systems, birds, cows and dogs and ways to reduce how much each source affects waterways.
Waste piles from animals left on a parking strip or hiking path can wash into streams, ponds and storm-water drains. Wingert said dogs do contribute to an E. coli problem.
"It will all run straight into the river," she said. "It directly, adversely affects human health."
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)