Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`There's Really No Excuse' DEP: Boaters Can Purge Waste Properly

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`There's Really No Excuse' DEP: Boaters Can Purge Waste Properly

Article excerpt

The 37 recreational boaters cited or warned about dumping their

sewage overboard last week had ample opportunities to dispose of

the waste properly, according to the top official at the state

Department of Environmental Protection's Jacksonville office.

Nine marinas or boat yards on the First Coast have facilities

called pump-out stations that allow boat owners to purge their

marine sanitation devices, said Ernest Frey, director of the

DEP's Northeast District.

"There's really no excuse for someone to purge their marine

sanitation device in the river," Frey said.

The DEP provides a list of 12 locations in the First Coast

having pump-out stations, though four facilities on the list do

not have them.

Frey said at least seven on the list -- plus five other

facilities that have pump-out stations or will by year's end --

give boaters plenty of options on eliminating waste.

"People think generally this little bit [of waste] that I'm

putting in there isn't that much," Frey said. "And that's true.

But when you multiply that by all the boats that are out there

and that are registered to use the waterways, that turns into

quite a bit of sewage."

Local boating activist Wayne Bazar, one of the founders of the

Save The Waterways organization, doesn't advocate the illegal

dumping, but said boaters sometimes break the law out of

ignorance. They don't know where the pump-out stations are.

"That's something they don't know about," Bazar said. "I deal

with a lot of boaters. It's not common knowledge. There's even a

lot of confusion about what the rules are."

Frey said the DEP hopes to develop a local waterway guide that

would include a listing of pump-out stations.

The importance of pump-out stations increased in 1994 with the

Clean Vessel Act, which prohibited boaters from discharging raw

sewage into freshwater or saltwater within 3 miles of the

Atlantic Coast and 9 miles of the Gulf Coast. Florida law

requires a marine sanitation device on board when in state

waters on the following crafts:

Any vessel 26 feet or longer with an enclosed cabin and

berthing facilities.

Any houseboat -- a vessel used primarily as a residence and not

moved for 21 out of 30 days.

Any floating structure with enclosed living space with

berthing facilities or work space with public access.

There are three types of marine sanitation devices. The first

two treat sewage by either chemical, thermal or biological

means. Those types can be purged overboard -- only after the

sewage has been treated -- anywhere in the state except Destin

Harbor.

The third type of device retains the sewage and is purged at

pump-out stations. For a fee, which varies depending on the size

of the device's holding tank, boaters can have the sewage

removed. …

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