Pet Waste Composter Cost Share Information

Correct Disposal of Pet Waste: A Water Quality Issue

We all love our pets. But pet waste contains bacteria that can be harmful to human health.  In addition nutrients found in pet waste encourage algae growth in local streams, (and the Chesapeake Bay downstream). Pet owners can help improve local water quality by making sure their pet’s waste is not left where it can wash into local streams, either directly or via a storm drain. While many people assume that water running into storm drains goes to a water treatment plant, it actually goes through the storm drain and straight to our local streams. 

 How can pet waste be disposed of safely? Here are some suggestions:

  • Render your pet waste harmless, and suitable for fertilizing non-edible backyard plants, by composting your pet waste.

  • Put  your pet waste in the trash where if will be taken to a local landfill.

  • Flush your pet waste down the toilet where it will go the local Waste Water Treatment Plant. You can use flushable bags to carry the waste to the toilet. Example*: Flush Puppies flushable dog poop bags.

  • Employ a commercial pet waste pickup service.

  • Use bags provided at pet waste stations located in our parks and neighborhoods to collect waste when out walking your dog.



Composting Pet Waste: Cost Share Available

Depending on where you live, there are two sources of cost share funding for pet waste composters. Both programs will pay 50% of the cost of composter (up to $100).
If you live in the Moores Creek Watershed (click here to check a map) , your cost share will be funded through a grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. If you live in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County, but outside the Moores Creek Watershed, the Rivanna Regional Stormwater Education Partnership will fund your cost share.

While the cost share effort is primarily designed to help restore the health of the Moores Creek, which is the focus of a broad effort to reduce bacteria levels in the waterway, we are encouraging all pet owners to help keep pet waste out of local streams. Pet waste has been identified as one of the sources that have raised the bacteria levels in Moores Creek to unhealthy levels, and is presumed to be a source of pollution in other local streams.

For more information, please phone Martin Johnson at the TJSWCD at (434) 975-0224 ext. 6
How to Apply for Cost Share
  1. Buy a composter at a local store or online.

  2. Install or set up your composter for use, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  3. Download the "Application and Agreement for Cost Share", fill it out, and sign it.

  4. Mail the completed application along with a copy of your receipt and a photograph of the installed composter (or permission to visit your home for verification) to the Thomas Jefferson soil & Water Conservation District). Note: verification of installation is not required outside the Moores Creek watershed.

    • You may also visit the TJSWCD office to deliver the application in person.

    • Alternatively, you can scan the materials and email them to Martin Johnson.

  5. A check will be issued to you for 50% of the cost of your composter, up to $100 (for a $200-composter).

What Types of Composters are Available?
Septic-Tank-Style Composters
This is the only type of composter that is marketed primarily for use with pet waste. It requires that a hole be dug 2-4 feet in the ground. The composter is inserted in the hole so that the lid on top is flush with the ground. Pet waste is dropped into the composter, and water is added. Once a week, a septic-tank-type enzyme is added to accelerate the process.

Doggie Dooley 3000 Septic-Tank-Style Pet-Waste Disposal System
“Traditional” Composters
This type of composter has long been used to convert kitchen and garden waste to a rich organic dark humus to be used in the garden. Water and organic material are added, and the material is occasionally turned or mixed.

Garden Plus 115 Gallon Compost Bin
Rotating/Tumbling Composters

These composters speed up the composting process by mixing or “turning” the composting material.

Example*:  Suncast 6.5 Cu. Ft. Plastic Tumbler Composter

Bokashi Fermentation

An alternative to composting is Bokashi fermentation. This fermenting system safely and rapidly transforms pet waste into a product that restores nutrients and microbes to the soil for ornamental plants. It is faster than composting.

Example*:  Bokashi Pet Cycle Fermentation System

* These examples are meant to be a rough guide to four types of pet waste composters that are commercially available and is not intended to be a recommendation of a particular vendor or model of composter. Other designs by other manufacturers are available in local stores and online.