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Kitsap marinas make upgrades to help boaters safely pump out sewage and keep water clean
POULSBO — Liberty Bay Marina in Poulsbo and Eagle Harbor Marina on Bainbridge Island have been awarded more than $40,000 in federal and state grants to replace aging boat sewage pumpout facilities, making it easier for area boaters to safely dispose of untreated sewage.
The grants, funded by the federal Clean Vessel Act and administered by Washington State Parks’ Boating Program, cover the full cost of the new pumpout equipment and will also reimburse the marinas for 75 percent of operation and maintenance expenses. As a condition of the grant, the marinas must make the new pumpouts available to the public.
At Liberty Bay Marina, the new pumpout unit is a huge improvement over the noisy, poorly functioning one the marina used for 14 years, marina manager Kathy Swanson said in a press release. “There’s no comparison — the new pumpout has way better suction. I was really grateful to get the grant, and I hope people will use the new pumpout. We don’t want the water polluted.”
With 271,000 registered boats in Washington, and thousands more unregistered small craft, discharge of untreated human waste from boats can have serious health and environmental impacts. Sewage can contaminate commercial and recreational shellfish operations and lead to closures of shellfish beds and recreational beaches. As organic matter from boat sewage breaks down, it can rob water of oxygen, harming fish and other aquatic wildlife.
According to Washington State Parks, easy access to reliable boat sewage pumpout stations helps Washington boaters protect the state’s waters — and comply with U.S. law, which prohibits the discharge of raw sewage in inland waters or within three miles of the coastline. By using Clean Vessel Act pumpout facilities, boaters prevented more than 4 million gallons of sewage from contaminating Washington’s waters in 2011 alone.
Many marina owners have not yet taken advantage of Clean Vessel Act grants, which have been available since 1992. Washington Sea Grant, in collaboration with Washington State Parks Boating Program, has been conducting outreach to marina owners to encourage them to apply for the grants.
“Not only do the grants cover 75 percent of equipment and installation,” said Alan Wolslegel, Clean Vessel program manager for Washington State Parks, “they reimburse 75 percent of parts, labor and other expenses to operate and maintain the pumpouts over the life of the equipment.” Funding for the Clean Vessel Act grants comes from a tax on recreational fishing gear and boat fuel.
When additional state matching funds are available, Washington State Parks is able to cover the remaining 25 percent of equipment costs, as it did for the Kitsap marinas. Grants are made year-round and are available for both new pumpout facilities and renovations to existing ones.
Including the Kitsap facilities, about 20 marinas across the state received more than $600,000 in Clean Vessel Act grants in 2012. There are currently more than 150 pumpout stations in Washington. A searchable list of pumpout locations in Washington can be found at www.parks.wa.gov/boating/pumpout/.
Based at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant provides statewide marine research, outreach, and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.