Beaudreau is learning to sniff raw sewage - professionally.
"He started training last week," said his owner, Tonya Bonitatibus of Savannah Riverkeeper.
The 2-year-old Catahoula will help the Augusta Utilities Department detect and eliminate elusive sewage leaks.
"Tracking down leaks is a huge effort," Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said. "Instead of having to take samples, send them to a lab and wait for results, we could have the dog find the source for us."
Augusta's storm drains and sewer lines have been modified countless times over the city's long history. Sewage sometimes finds its way into those drains or nearby creeks, creating health hazards and putting the city in hot water with environmental regulators.
Beaudreau is being trained by Southern K9 Solutions in Columbia County, where the same tactics used to train bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs will help him learn to locate even the most subtle scent of sewage.
"If he can find those leaks quicker, it could be a cost savings to the city," said Bonitatibus, whose organization is splitting the $7,000 training cost with the utilities department. "And finding leaks faster means they can be cleaned up more quickly."
Using sewage-sniffing dogs to improve environmental compliance already is being explored by the Water Environment Research Foundation through a pilot project in Santa Barbara, Calif., she said.
If the program is successful in Augusta, she hopes to use Beaudreau to help other cities and utilities in the Savannah River Basin.
"We hope it can help more places than Augusta," she said.
Currently, utilities officials use several costly methods to locate sewage outfalls that leak into storm drains or waterways.
In addition to paying for sampling and lab work, employees can spend days or weeks pumping smoke into sewer lines to see if it emerges in storm drains, which means there is a crossover of sewage.
"The benefit I see to us is that the dog could be more effective and faster at finding a problem," Wiedmeier said. "He could also make regular patrols in areas where we have problems. A preventive maintenance culture can make a huge difference."
Just this spring, Georgia's Environmental Protection Division fined the city about $45,000 for about 100 sewage spills dating back to 2004. Better compliance in the future could help avoid such penalties, he said.
Bonitatibus, meanwhile, is helping with Beaudreau's sewage-sniffing education.
"I have samples in the fridge at the office right now," she said. "We collect it at the sewage plant - right where it comes in."