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G. Sewage Facility Management Measure

Install pumpout, dump station, and restroom facilities where needed at new and expanding marinas to reduce the release of sewage to surface waters. Design these facilities to allow ease of access and post signage to promote use by the boating public.

1. Applicability

This management measure is intended to be applied by States to new and expanding marinas in areas where adequate marine sewage collection facilities do not exist. Marinas that do not provide services for vessels that have marine sanitation devices (MSDs) do not need to have pumpouts, although dump stations for portable toilets and restrooms should be available. This measure does not address direct discharges from vessels covered under CWA section 312. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop coastal nonpoint source programs in conformity with this measure and will have some flexibility in doing so. The application of management measures by States is described more fully in Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance, published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

2. Description

Three types of onshore collection systems are available: fixed point systems, portable/mobile systems, and dedicated slipside systems. Information on the installation and operation of sewage pumpout stations is available from the State of Maryland (MDDNR, 1991).

EPA Region I determined that, in general, a range of one pumpout facility per 300-600 boats with holding tanks (type III MSDs) should be sufficient to meet the demand for pumpout services in most harbor areas (USEPA, 1991b). EPA Region 4 suggested one facility for every 200 to 250 boats with holding tanks and provided a formula for estimating the number of boats with holding tanks (USEPA, 1985a). The State of Michigan has instituted a no-discharge policy and mandates one pumpout facility for every 100 boats with holding tanks.

According to the 1989 American Red Cross Boating Survey, there were approximately 19 million recreational boats in the United States (USCG, 1990). About 95 percent of these boats were less than 26 feet in length. A very large number of these boats used a portable toilet, rather than a larger holding tank. Given the large percentage of smaller boats, facilities for the dumping of portable toilet waste should be provided at marinas that service significant numbers of boats under 26 feet in length.

Two of the most important factors in successfully preventing sewage discharge are (1) providing "adequate and reasonably available" pumpout facilities and (2) conducting a comprehensive boater education program (USEPA, 1991b). The Public Education Management Measure presents additional information on this subject. One reason that pumpout use in Puget Sound is higher than that in other areas could be the extensive boater education program established in that area.

Chemicals from holding tanks may retard the normal functioning of septic systems. Information on septic systems can be found in Chapter 4. Neither the chemicals nor the concentration of marine wastes has proven to be a problem for properly operating public sewage treatment plants.

3. Management Measure Selection

Measure selection is based on the need to reduce discharges of sanitary waste and the fact that most coastal States and many localities already require the installation of pumpout facilities and restrooms at all or selected marinas (Appendix 5A). Other States encourage the installation and use of pumpouts through grant programs and boater education.

In a Long Island Sound study, only about 5 percent of the boats were expected to use pumpouts. Given the low documented usage by boaters at marinas with pumpouts, the time, inconvenience, and cost associated with pumpouts were determined to be more of a deterrent to use than was lack of availability of facilities (Tanski, 1989). A Puget Sound study found that 35 percent of the boats responding to a survey had holding tanks (type III MSDs). Eighty percent of these boats had y-valves that allowed illegal discharge. About half of these boats used pumpouts. The boaters surveyed felt that the most effective methods to ensure proper disposal of boat waste would be the improvement of waste-disposal facilities and boater education (Cheyne and Carter, 1989). Another Puget Sound study found that the problem of marine sewage waste could best be addressed through containment of wastes onboard the vessel and subsequent onshore disposal through the provision of adequate numbers of clean, accessible, economical, and easily used pumpout stations (Seabloom et al., 1989). Designation and advertisement of no-discharge zones can also increase boater use of pumpout facilities (MDDNR, 1991).

4. Practices

As discussed more fully at the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measure described above.

  • a. Fixed-Point Systems

    Fixed-point collection systems include one or more centrally located sewage pumpout stations (see Figure 5-8). These stations are generally located at the end of a pier, often on a fueling pier so that fueling and pumpout operations can be combined. A boat requiring pumpout services docks at the pumpout station. A flexible hose is connected to the wastewater fitting in the hull of the boat, and pumps or a vacuum system move the wastewater to an onshore holding tank, a public sewer system, a private treatment facility, or another approved disposal facility. In cases where the boats in the marina use only small portable (removable) toilets, a satisfactory disposal facility could be a dump station.

  • b. Portable Systems

    Portable/mobile systems are similar to fixed-point systems and in some situations may be used in their place at a fueling dock. The portable unit includes a pump and a small storage tank. The unit is connected to the deck fitting on the vessel, and wastewater is pumped from the vessel's holding tank to the pumping unit's storage tank. When the storage tank is full, its contents are discharged into a municipal sewage system or a holding tank for removal by a septic tank pumpout service. In many instances, portable pumpout facilities are believed to be the most logistically feasible, convenient, accessible (and, therefore, used), and economically affordable way to ensure proper disposal of boat sewage (Natchez, 1991). Portable systems can be difficult to move about a marina and this factor should be considered when assessing the correct type of system for a marina. Another portable/mobile pumpout unit that is an emerging technology and is popular in the Great Salt Pond in Block Island, New York, is the radio-dispatched pumpout boat. The pumpout boat goes to a vessel in response to a radio-transmitted request, pumps the holding tank, and moves on to the next requesting vessel. This approach eliminates the inconvenience of lines, docking, and maneuvering vessels in high-traffic areas.

    Costs associated with pumpouts vary according to the size of the marina and the type of pumpout system. Table 5-4 presents 1985 cost information for three marina sizes and two types of pumpout systems (USEPA, 1985a). More recent systems are less expensive, with a homemade portable system costing less than $250 in parts and commercial portable units available for between $2,000 and $4,000 (Natchez, 1991).

  • c. Dedicated Slipside Systems

    Dedicated slipside systems provide continuous wastewater collection at a slip. Slipside pumpout should be provided to live-aboard vessels. The remainder of the marina can still be served by either marina-wide or mobile pumpout systems.

  • d. Adequate Signage

    Marina operators should post ample signs prohibiting the discharge of sanitary waste from boats into the waters of the State, including the marina basin, and also explaining the availability of pumpout services and public restroom facilities. Signs should also fully explain the procedures and rules governing the use of the pumpout facilities. An example of an easily understandable sign that has been used to advertise the availability of pumpout facilities is presented in Figure 5-9 (Keko, Inc., 1992).

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