Pumpout, Don't Dump Out
Clean water is essential to protecting Florida’s natural resources, economy, and our way of life. Learn how and why to do your part in properly disposing of boat waste.
Raw or poorly treated sewage can spread diseases. Human waste contains bacteria, viruses, and potentially parasites. Contact with water contaminated by human waste can make you sick. Common symptoms include nausea, stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, earache, respiratory problems, skin infections and rashes. Serious waterborne diseases include hepatitis, typhoid, dysentery, and cholera.
Excess nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen, from sewage can contribute to harmful algae blooms (HABs). Boat sewage is highly concentrated and even if treated through a type I or type II Marine Sanitation Devise (MSD), it increases levels of nutrients in the water. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen from sewage can contribute to harmful algae blooms (HABs), which block sunlight penetration and contribute to lower oxygen level.
During decomposition, sewage consumes the oxygen needed by marine life to survive. When sewage breaks down, it uses up oxygen in the water. The amount of dissolved oxygen in the water required to decompose organic matter is measured in terms of “Biological Oxygen Demand” or “BOD”. Waters with high BODs and HABs make it difficult for fish and other aquatic life to survive.
Human waste discharged overboard can contaminate shellfish beds. Shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels are filter feeders. They take in large volumes of water every day and eat the tiny food particles in the water, along with any bacteria and viruses that are present from sewage. Sewage discharged overboard can cause the closure of shellfish beds which people rely on to make a living and feed their families.
- Unscrew the deck waste fitting and make sure your holding tank’s air vent is open.
- Uncoil the hose, taking it off the pedestal to prevent blockages.
- Close the nozzle by putting the ball valve in a perpendicular position.
- Turn the pump on.
- Place the nozzle in the deck waste fitting and open the nozzle by putting the ball valve in the parallel position.
- Check the sight glass. If flow does not begin within one minute, place the nozzle in water for ten seconds. If there is still no flow, check for an air leak or clog in the hose or holding tank air vent.
- When the tank is empty, close the nozzle and angle it to the side to ‘crack the seal’ and allow any residual fluid to drain back down into the MSD.
- Rinse the pumpout system by pumping a bucket of water through the system then close the nozzle.
- Turn off the pump and return the hose so it is ready for the next boater.
Use onshore facilities before leaving the dock, at locations along the way, and when you return.
Get equipped with the sewage management option that works best for you, you can properly maintain, and will prevent waste from entering our waterways.
Don’t discharge overboard, especially in sensitive areas, over seagrass, shellfish beds, in low tidal flushing areas or near recreational swimming and fishing areas.
Pumpout regularly and use a pumpout log to keep track of your holding tank capacity.
Use the right toilet tissue. Choose rapidly dissolving paper to prevent clogging in your boat’s sewage system. Recycled paper options are available. Never flush ‘flushable’ wipes, even at home, they do not dissolve and will clog pipes.
Rinse with fresh water regularly.
Clean with a vinegar solution immediately after a tank has been emptied and before you add holding tank treatments. This reduces scale buildup, keeps the walls of the hose clean, and extends the life of the hose.
Use enzyme-based treatments over harmful chemical deodorizers and disinfectants. Enzyme treatments effectively break down solids, reduce odors, and are biodegradable and less toxic.
Clean and deodorize with borax and baking soda. Use a mix of ½ cup borax per 1 gallon of water. Clean with baking soda and water, and sprinkle baking soda around the rim.
Change hoses when needed. Over time, system hoses absorb the sewage smell. Wet a rag with hot water and put it around the hoses for a few minutes. Remove the rag, if it smells it may mean the odor has permeated through the hose and it is time to change it.
Report illegal discharges of oil, chemical and sewage spills to your local coast guard office, the national response center at 1-800-424-8802, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), or your local law enforcement officer.