All pumped up: Boaters set new record for protecting Puget Sound

Posted 3/22/16

More than 8.3 million gallons of raw sewage that would otherwise have been dumped into vulnerable waterways was diverted from Puget Sound in 2015 for safe onshore treatment with the help of Pumpout …

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All pumped up: Boaters set new record for protecting Puget Sound

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More than 8.3 million gallons of raw sewage that would otherwise have been dumped into vulnerable waterways was diverted from Puget Sound in 2015 for safe onshore treatment with the help of Pumpout Washington.

A joint project of Washington Sea Grant (WSG) and Washington State Parks, Pumpout Washington helped to divert 6 million gallons of raw sewage in 2014, and has a goal to divert 10 million gallons of sewage in 2016. The Pumpout Washington project is managed by Port Townsend–based Aaron Barnett, a boating specialist for WSG.

While a strong economy and low fuel prices may have contributed to the new 2015 record by encouraging boaters to spend more time afloat – and produce more waste – Al Wolslegel, manager of the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program, also attributes the surge to other factors.

“Our educational outreach has increased awareness of the impact on the environment, and pumping out has become the correct thing to do,” Wolslegel said. “Boaters are taking advantage of the increase in the number and reliability of pump-outs.”

Barnett and Wolslegel each visited 60-70 marinas last year to educate operators about the program. Year around, they reach out to boaters at boat shows, yacht clubs, maritime festivals and other venues, educating them about the importance of pumping out and the threat that dumped sewage poses on marine life and human health.

Barnett and Sea Grant volunteers have distributed hands-free adapters, which make pumping out cleaner and easier, to more than 9,000 of the state’s 20,000 boaters whose vessels have onboard toilets.

Collections have also gotten a boost in the past two years from the launch of pump-out boats at marinas in Tacoma, at Semiahmoo, and on the Snake River.

“Boaters want to pump out if they’re given the opportunity,” said Wolslegel. Washington Sea Grant works with Wolslegel’s program to provide that opportunity.

The Clean Vessel Program is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sportfish Restoration Fund through special taxes on recreational boats, fishing gear and boat fuel. Visit pumpoutwashington.org for a Google map showing all 150 CVA pump-out locations in Washington.

For yacht clubs or other organization interested in receiving hands-free, spill-free pump-out adapters for its members, contact Barnett at 206-616-8929 or aaronb5@uw.edu.

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