UW News

May 8, 2017

Pumping up a new record: 10 million gallons of sewage diverted from Washington waters in 2016

Washington Sea Grant

In 2016, the Washington Clean Vessel Act, a joint project of Washington State Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant, helped divert a record 10 million gallons of raw sewage from Puget Sound, Lake Washington and other state waterways that previously would have been dumped into vulnerable waters. Instead it was collected for safe onshore treatment. This diversion is largely a result of training, outreach and federal funds provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife for the Pumpout Washington program, a branch of the Clean Vessel Act that provides outreach and education to boaters and boater organizations.

Terry Durfee pumps out a bilge on Lake Washington.

Terry Durfee pumps out a bilge on Lake Washington.Washington Sea Grant

This summer, the team hopes to expand services to waterways that are more remote and with heavier boating traffic. Based on needs identified in boater surveys, services will soon reach the San Juan Islands, particularly near Sucia Island.

UW-based Washington Sea Grant redesigned a hands-free, spill-free pump out adapter kit to make it easier for boaters to use pump out facilities without making a mess. Throughout 2016, Washington State Parks and Washington Sea Grant distributed 2,000 of the free adapter kits at 50 marinas and raised awareness of best practices among Washington boaters at boat shows, festivals, yacht clubs and through a partnership with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Since 2010, the team has stepped up expansion of the pump out stations, adding 65 new facilities around the state for a total of 150 ― and beefed up maintenance efforts accordingly.

“Awareness of the Clean Vessel Program and its pump out services in Washington state is way up. The reaction from boaters has been so successful, we are breaking all records,” said clean vessel program manager Al Wolslegel.

For more information about the program, including a Google map showing pump out station locations in Washington state, visit pumpoutwashington.org.

The Clean Vessel Program is managed by Washington State Parks and supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sportfish Restoration Fund from special taxes on recreational boats, fishing gear and boat fuel. The kits and training are made available to yacht clubs or other organizations that would like adapter kits for members. Contact Aaron Barnett at 206-616-8929 or aaronb5@uw.edu for more information. Lake Washington boaters may schedule pump outs through terryandsonsmobilepumpout.com or 206-437-6764.