Vessel Pollution - Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

Soundkeeper is committed to working with the maritime industry and the marine community to protect Puget Sound waters. Through the Clean Marina Washington program, Soundkeeper and partners have incentivized best practices for local marinas, focusing on oil spill prevention, sewage management and disposal, environmentally friendly boat maintenance, hazardous waste management and recycling. Currently there are 70 certified Clean Marinas throughout Washington State, and that number continues to grow.


Promoting Best Practices

Although vessel pollution is a serious issue, there is much that individual boaters and marinas can do to protect our waterways. In 2005 Soundkeeper helped found the Clean Marina Washington program, an incentive-based certification to help marinas improve their operations to better protect the environment. Clean Marina provides best management practices and a set of qualification standards that enable Marinas to be leaders in pollution prevention.

Clean Marina best practices focus on responsible fueling, sewage management and disposal, environmentally friendly boat maintenance, and hazardous waste management and recycling.

Current Actions

There are currently 70  Clean Marinas in Washington State, and several more in the process of certification. Soundkeeper also produces the Boater’s Guide, a free 60-page booklet about Puget Sound boating and how to be a responsible steward of the environment.

Resources

Study from B.C. on oil spills from recreational vessels


 

Puget Sound No Discharge Zone

Prior to 2018, federal regulations allowed treated sewage to be discharged from vessels anywhere in Puget Sound waters while underway, and untreated sewage to be discharged three or more nautical miles from shore. In 2016, the Department of Ecology petitioned the EPA to establish a No Discharge Zone for all of Puget Sound to protect marine life and water quality. An NDZ prohibits any boat from discharging treated or untreated sewage in the Sound. Boaters, freighters and cruise ships instead have to store sewage and dispose of it safely at an onshore facility.

Sewage discharges, even small ones, can endanger human health and threaten shellfish beds. The Puget Sound region has more than a hundred pumpouts available. Through the Federal Clean Vessel Act, Washington State Parks administers $1.5 million dollars annually to increase pumpout availability including the addition of several free pumpout services.

Current Actions

Soundkeeper supported the establishment of a No Discharge Zone in Puget Sound and works with boaters to encourage them to use pumpouts and provide information about how and where to safely dispose of vessel waste. In April of 2018, the state officially established a No Discharge Zone in Puget Sound.

Resources

Ecology’s homepage for the No Discharge Zone project