Sussey, the sewage-sniffing dog, can detect leaks, illegal discharges and broken pipes
Carol Parenzan became the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper in July 2015 and was charged with protecting and improving the health of the river’s watershed between its north and west branches. Shortly afterward, her first staff member came on board: a rusty-colored fluff ball of energy named “Little Keeper” Susquehanna, or Sussey for short.
Parenzan said that the dog is a great mascot for her work. “It’s a connecting point. He draws more people to me when I’m out.” But Sussey has work to do, too. The Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever is 3 years old and is in training to sniff out leaking septic systems, illegal discharges into waterways and broken sewer pipes — all of which can contaminate local streams and the Susquehanna River.
|Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever|
Sniffing down sewage is quite a comedown for a breed that's supposed be retrieving ducks.
To train Sussey, Parenzen makes a weekly trip to the wastewater treatment plant to get a small vial of effluent, then dips a cotton swab into the vial and places the swab into a small tin with a punctured lid.
She places the tin among identical tins with a different scent or no scent at all. Sussey’s job is to find the effluent — and he usually succeeds in 20–40 seconds.
In the next step, Parenzan plans on moving the practice indoors and making the task harder by using buckets of water containing small amounts of effluent
Sussey should be offering his services to local governments or environmental groups in the near future.