Budget item supports Puget Sound water quality goals, and protects human and wildlife health

Olympia, WA (May 2, 2023) Puget Sound water quality awaits a $1 million boost in the form of the Capital Budget, SB 5200, which headed to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk on April 24th. The budget expanded support for, and increased access to, sewage and wastewater pumpout services for boaters looking to comply with the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone (NDZ). The NDZ was established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 2018 to protect water quality, shellfisheries, and beaches from vessel-sourced sewage.

“This is a victory for vessels that want to do the right thing and use a pumpout for their blackwater,” said Puget Soundkeeper attorney and Law & Policy Director Emily Gonzalez. “Puget Soundkeeper will continue to work with our partners, helping marinas access these newly earmarked funds. Our team will follow the mobile pumpout assessment closely, and we’re excited to support marinas and boaters as they comply with Puget Sound’s No Discharge Zone.”

These pumpout funds will help facilities, such as many public marinas, run vital sewage services by expanding financial support through the Clean Vessel Act grant program. Thanks to increased funding, many pumpout facilities that couldn’t afford to operate can now sustain services to the boating community. Funding also supports a commercial pumpout station at the Port of Anacortes, and a needs assessment study, determining how to provide robust mobile pumpout access in Puget Sound.

Puget Soundkeeper worked with a diverse coalition to help pass SB 5200, including Northwest Marine Trade Association, Recreational Boating Association of Washington, American Waterways Operators, and Pacific Shellfish Growers. The budget proviso received bipartisan support in the House and Senate. “These funds will immediately benefit the waters of the Sound, will help sustain the efforts of those working to protect the Sound, and will help ensure that we build a sustainable maritime pollution prevention program over the coming years.” said Puget Soundkeeper Executive Director Sean Dixon. “This year’s legislature came together and made a welcome, bipartisan step forward for clean water and our maritime industries.”

Puget Sound must have adequate pumpout facilities to ensure the implementation of the No Discharge Zone. In February, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. made a final decision to uphold the Zone and ban vessels from dumping raw sewage into Puget Sound.

Sewage contains bacteria and other pathogens that threaten shellfish beds, animal life, and public health, especially in communities that subsist on local fish. Within No Discharge Zone boundaries, boaters are required to hold sewage on board their vessels for disposal at pumpout facilities or outside the zone’s boundaries. The 2023 Capital Budget and expanded state program will make it easier for vessels and marinas to protect human health and vulnerable aquatic organisms from pollution.



Emily Gonzalez, emily@pugetsoundkeeper.org (206) 297-7002 x114