Good News for Water Quality

New pumpout boat services expand this summer in South Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.

It will now be easier for recreational boaters to safely pump out vessel sewage and keep Washington’s waters clean with an expansion of mobile pumpout services in South Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. The State Parks Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Grant Program recently funded over $900,000 in new pumpout projects throughout the state, roughly $200,000 of which will help fund pumpout vessels in Pierce County and the Port of Lopez. Pierce County and the South Puget Sound Mobile Pumpout Program received about $90,000 to fund two years of seasonal pumpout boat operation and maintenance expenses. Jeff Barney, the watershed planner for Pierce County Surface Water Management, applied for the CVA grant to fund the mobile pumpout service for South Puget Sound, an area that is currently limited in pumpout services.

“Our goal is to reach all boaters, even those who may not know what a pumpout station is,” Barney explains. “This [mobile pumpout vessel] is the first piece of the puzzle.” 

The mobile pumpout service will be operated by Paul Weyn with NW Mobile Pump Out and Marine Environmental Services. The vessel will travel to different sites, marinas and docking facilities in to give recreational boaters a convenient way to dispose of sewage from their sanitary waste tanks right where they are moored. This free service will be offered on weekends and holidays throughout the boating season.

Paul Weyn with Pierce County Pumpout Vessel

The Port of Lopez received over $100,000 to fund capital improvements, vessel expenses, and two years of annual pumpout boat operation and maintenance. The mobile service will use the first all-electric pumpout vessel and will serve an important role in the Port’s mission to conserve and protect the surrounding waters, while also reducing their carbon footprint. 

Paul Henriksen, one of the three commissioners and current chair with the Port of Lopez, will help operate this new pumpout vessel. “By offering a mobile pumpout service, we hope to encourage more boaters to pump out their holding tanks and reduce the possibility that they will dump overboard,” Henriksen explains. “This pumpout service is the Port’s way of helping to protect the quality of water in our area.”

The mobile pumpout service in the Port of Lopez will begin operations in August, running six days a week throughout the boating season. To learn more and to schedule an appointment, visit their website. To request a service in Pierce County, call 253-225-7660 or schedule an appointment on their website

To locate your nearest pumpout and dump station, visit PumpoutWashington.org or download the free and easy-to-use Pumpout Nav app at the Apple Store or Google Play. 

Map of Pierce County Pumpout Program

Through the CVA Grant Program, several other projects were awarded to different marinas and ports throughout the state, including: Leschi Marina in Seattle; Deer Harbor Marina at Orcas Island; Ice Harbor Marina in Burbank; Narrow Marina in Tacoma; Pierce County; Squalicum Harbor in the Port of Bellingham; Port of Friday Harbor; Port of Lopez; Port of Poulsbo; Roche Harbor Marina; and Shelton Yacht Club. Grant recipients will provide a 25 percent match of these funds and are contributing more than $500,000.

These pumpout facilities are critical for keeping sewage out of Puget Sound to protect shellfish beds and improve overall water quality. They will also help recreational boaters comply with the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone (NDZ) law, which has been in effect since May 10, 2018. Under the NDZ law, it is illegal to dump sewage in certain areas of Puget Sound and adjoining waters for Type I and II vessels. 

“We are excited to support the expansion and upgrade of pumpout facilities for recreational boaters,” said Catherine Buchalski Smith, CVA Grant Program manager. “A functional network of public pumpout facilities is key to helping boaters safely and legally dispose of their on-board sewage.” 

The National Clean Vessel Act Grant Program was established in 1992 after Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act. The state Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Grant Program is administered by the Washington State Parks Boating Program and receives federal grants from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, along with additional funding from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes on fuel, fishing gear, recreational boats, and interest on the fund. Federal grant funding is awarded through a nationally competitive process for all 50 states and U.S. territories. The CVA Grant Program also provides funding for Pumpout Washington, a public outreach program managed by Washington Sea Grant.

Washington Sea Grant, based within the College of the Environment at the University of Washington, helps people understand and address the challenges facing Washington’s ocean and coasts through marine research, technical expertise and education. www.wsg.washington.edu