For the past two years, the pandemic has stimulated boat sales by 17.8% and increased boater activity on the waters in Washington State. With an increase in boating activity, the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Act Program (CVA) is making it a priority to add infrastructure that will meet the growing needs for more boater sewage disposal options in Washington, adding pumpout locations throughout the San Juan islands and the Salish Sea.

One way that boaters can learn about pumpout options is through the outreach efforts of Pumpout Washington, an educational outreach program managed by Washington Sea Grant in partnership with Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Act Program.

Pumpout Washington keeps boaters informed of updates on new pumpout locations, instructs boaters how to effectively pump out, and provides free tools for efficient pumping. But that isn’t the only resource available to boaters. The Washington Department of Ecology’s “Pump Out, Don’t Dump Out” campaign makes it easier for boaters to comply with the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone (NDZ) ruling, which went into effect five years ago. The ruling established Puget Sound and certain adjoining waters as areas where boaters may not release treated or untreated sewage from Type I and Type II marine sanitation devices (MSDs). You can learn more about it here.

Among the tools offered to boaters is the free pumpout adapter, an easy screw-in nozzle that keeps sewage from spilling over. Washington Sea Grant and Washington State Parks CVA Grant Program also promote Pumpout Nav, a free phone app that allows boaters to find one of nearly 200 pumpout and dump stations in Washington, as well as hundreds of pumpouts in California and Oregon. The app is available for both iOS and Android. Pumpout Nav is a convenient tool helping boaters to keep Washington’s waters healthy and their holding tanks empty.

The summer boating season brings increased concern for not only sewage spills, but also for small oil spills, which account for 75% of the oil dumped into local waters. The Small Spills Prevention Program, co-managed by Washington Sea Grant and Washington Department of Ecology, provides boaters with the knowledge and tools they need to stop oil pollution at the source. Some of these tools include a free Small Oil Spills Prevention pillow, a small absorbent pillow that is placed alongside bilge pumps to prevent oily discharge from entering the water, and a fuel bib, an absorbent pad that fits snuggly on a fuel nozzle.

Photo of absorbent pad and pillow for fuel spills

The CVA program is part of the Clean Vessel Act of 1992 supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sportfish Restoration Fund from special taxes on recreational boats, fishing gear, and boat fuel. Washington Sea Grant provides small oil spills bibs and pillows as well as pumpout adapters to individual boaters, marinas, yacht clubs or other organizations that serve recreational boaters. For more information about the Pumpout Washington program, visit pumpoutwashington.org or contact Aaron Barnett, Washington Sea Grant boating specialist at aaronb5@uw.edu; Bridget Trosin, Washington Sea Grant coastal policy specialist at bemmett@uw.edu; or Catherine Buchalski-Smith, Washington Sate Parks communications coordinator at catherine.buchalskismith@parks.wa.gov.

Olivia Horwedel
Washington Sea Grant
Science Communications