Boat green to protect the waterways
As boaters, we all enjoy America’s lakes, rivers and coastal waters. To keep them healthy and productive, boat green and follow good environmental boating practices. This means managing human waste and garbage associated with food packaging as well as keeping food (and things perceived as food) away from bears, rodents, and other animals.
10 tips to help you boat green
- Keep your bilge clean; don’t pump oily water overboard.
- Use bilge absorbents instead of detergents.
- Don’t dump your sewage in confined waters; use a holding tank.
- Observe local and federal sewage regulations.
- Bring your garbage home. Don’t litter.
- Use detergents sparingly; even biodegradable cleaners can harm the aquatic environment.
- When fueling, do not top off tanks. Clean up spilled fuel.
- Use only paints approved for marine use.
- Avoid shoreline erosion. Watch your wake and propeller wash.
- If fishing, practice catch and release.
Federal law prohibits the discharge of oil and other hazardous substances into navigable waters.
Oil residue builds up in the bilge and could be pumped overboard, thereby polluting an area. For example, this can happen when you remove drain plugs from a boat on a lift or trailer. So take precautions to prevent this from happening.
Be aware that you face penalties for each discharge a harmful quantity of oil.
Boats 26 feet or longer with machinery spaces must display a warning placard. The placard must be at least 5 by 8 inches, made of durable material, and fixed in a conspicuous place in the machinery space or at the bilge pump control station.
Report any oil spill to the U.S. Coast Guard immediately. Report any hazardous substance discharge that causes a film, discoloration or emulsion to form on or beneath the water’s surface.
Discharging raw sewage into the ocean from a vessel within 3 miles of the coastline or in sounds, bays, navigable rivers or the Great Lakes is illegal.
Untreated human waste may never be dumped into inland waters. Recreational boats with installed toilet facilities must have an operable Coast Guard-certified marine sanitation device.
- Type I and II marine sanitation devices treat sewage in an approved manner before discharge into the water. These devices must be sealed to prevent discharge into no-discharge zones.
- Type III MSDs include recirculating and incinerating devices and holding tanks.
Use an approved pump-out station to empty holding tanks. If your boat has a Y valve, close it and secure with a lock or non-reusable tie.
Because of the growing number of no-discharge zones and the increasing number of boaters, the federal government and states are helping to fund additional pump-out stations along U.S. waterways.
Install a Coast Guard-approved marine sanitation device in your boat, preferably one with a holding tank. Be aware of local anti-pollution laws wherever you boat.
Don’t dump anything into the water. Instead, take all garbage off the boat for proper disposal at beach receptacles, pump-out stations or other shore collection bins as appropriate.
Disposal of all garbage is expressly prohibited. This includes plastics, synthetic ropes, fishing gear, plastic bags, incinerator ashes, clinkers, cooking oil, floating dunnage, lining and packing materials, paper, rags, glass, metal, bottles, crockery and similar waste.
Boats 26 feet or greater in length must display in a prominent location a durable placard at least 4 by 9 inches notifying the crew and passengers of discharge restrictions.
In short, never throw anything into the water that did not come out of it.
Become a better boater
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