Teamwork kept 10 million gallons of sewage out of Washington waters in 2016

Washington’s Clean Vessel program, in partnership with Washington Sea Grant and hundreds of marinas, kept 10 million gallons of raw sewage out of Washington’s waterways in 2016 through free and reduced-charge marine pumpout services. Over six years, that’s a pollution prevention improvement of more than 7 million gallons.

Washington State Parks manages the federal Clean Vessel Act grant, a competitive funding source from a portion of taxes on the sales of boats, fishing equipment and small engine fuel. The act aims to reduce sewage dumping from recreational vessels into Washington’s waters. 

State Parks’ Clean Vessel Program distributes the federal funds to marinas, which, in turn, provide free or reduced-charge pump-out services to boaters. The agency contracts with Sea Grant on outreach and education, allowing both organizations to participate in boat shows, workshops, magazine campaigns and training videos.

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The program now has 145 stationary and portable pumpout stations, compared with 85 in 2010. Clean Vessel Program Manager Alan Wolslegel attributes this success to Washington’s marine industry and boating community, which have embraced the program. 

Technology has also helped, as newly designed pumps and free deck-fitting kits significantly reduce spills.  

Wolslegel is proud of the program’s achievements. “The gallons of waste being collected and properly disposed of are not going into the waterways,” he said. 

He stresses that a collective effort makes it possible. “Marina owners and operators deserve a lot of the credit; they’re the ones who made the facilities available, and boaters are willing to pump. It has all been very positive,” said Wolslegel.