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Using Pumpouts to Help Keep NJ Water Clean

by Al Ivany
Principal Biologist - Education


New Jersey's abundant and diverse water resources offer endless recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Every year, fishing provides enjoyment for more than 800,000 people and a $1.4 billion dollar boost to the state's economy. Recreational boating is on the rise, with nearly a quarter-million registered vessels in New Jersey. What's more, wildlife thrives in and near our waters - New Jersey's rivers, lakes, streams, bays, ocean and wetlands provide quality habitat for hundreds of species.

As sportsmen know, the beauty and value of our precious water resources can be compromised if not carefully protected. Sewage discharges from vessels can degrade water quality, adversely affect public health and wildlife, and close shellfish beds and swimming beaches.

To help keep our waters clean, the Clean Vessel Act Program (CVA), passed by Congress in 1992, provides funds for construction and operation of sewage pumpout stations and dump stations for recreational boats, as well as for information and education programs that encourage boaters to use pumpouts.

Since the CVA program's inception in New Jersey a decade ago, boaters have responded overwhelmingly; millions of gallons of sewage have been removed from boats and treated safely.

Four pumpout boats patrol coastal waterways during the summer months, assisting boaters on the open water. The Circle of Life operates in the southern portion of Barnegat Bay, adjacent to Island Beach State Park, while the Bay Saver covers the northern portion of Barnegat Bay, including the Silver Bay area and the tidal portions of the Metedeconk River. The Waste Watcher provides service in Manahawkin Bay and Little Egg Harbor. The Royal Flush works in the Navesink River, Shrewsbury River and portions of Sandy Hook Bay. During 2003 alone, these four pumpout boats serviced 1,819 vessels and pumped 36,421 gallons of sewage at no cost to boaters.

Circle of Life pumpout boat
The "Circle of Life", a 20-foot open scow-type vessel, is New Jersey's first pumpout boat, able to carry up to 300 gallons of boat sewage from vessels moored and anchored in Barnegat Bay. The Borough of Seaside Park purchased the boat with funds allocated under the Clean Vessel Act Program and NJ Department of Environmental Protection environmental grants.

Nearly 180 pumpout stations are now operating at marinas in New Jersey and providing service to the recreational boating community, and construction approvals are pending for several new stations. Most of the pumpout stations are located along the Atlantic Coast and nearby waterways with one station in freshwater on Lake Hopatcong. The CVA Program encourages more marinas on freshwater lakes to apply for funding for construction of pumpout stations.

Pumpout stations are easy to use, and CVA-participating marinas can charge no more than $5 per pumpout. Participating marinas should be marked with the CVA program emblem. Boaters should note that higher fees might be charged at pumpout facilities installed at their owner's expense and not funded through CVA.

New Jersey's marina owners and municipal governments are encouraged to continue applying to the CVA program for funding to build and operate pumpout facilities. Following application approval from the Clean Vessel Act Steering Committee, owners of pumpout stations or pumpout boats can receive 100 percent reimbursement for equipment installation. Owners must maintain the pumpout for five years. Interested parties can request an application for pumpout installation through the CVA Program by contacting the New Jersey Marine Trades Association at 732-206-1400.

Boaters can obtain a free guide which shows locations of all New Jersey's pumpout stations by contacting New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife's CVA Office at 609-748-2056. The guide, along with other information about New Jersey's Clean Vessel Act Program, also may be picked up where the CVA Program displays at several major New Jersey boats shows and online.

The Clean Vessel Act Program is making a difference in the quality of our water resources, and you can, too. No one wants to fish, swim or boat in polluted water. Using pumpout stations is an easy way to protect New Jersey's environment and natural resources. So remember, when you're out on the water, please be a safe boater and keep our waters clean - use pumpouts!

For more information, see the NJBoating.org page.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: May 23, 2013