Sewage and Your Boat

This is a repost of a gentleman that posted in SailNet.  The author, kd3pc, nailed a problem with government regulation related to dumping from boats.

Just for grins…

there are 877,000 boats owned in the 5 state watershed to the Chesapeake, according to the latest verified numbers by the USCG (2004).  DC did not show so I used 20,000 boats owned for them.
PA  350K
VA  245K
MD  210K
DC  20K
DE  52K

lets assume absolute worse case is that EVERY ONE of those boats is on the bay (Note they are not, this is ALL boats, trailerable, conoe, kayak, PWC, etc) AND that every one has a 30 gallon holding tank…..full

that turns out to be 26,310,000 gallons of poo….likely more than a few days worth for most boats, a season for some….but let’s just say

26 MILLION gallons…

Now let’s look at ONE city on the bay…certainly not picking on Baltimore, but they are consistently in the news, and seem to not be able to make headway on fixing things.  DC is no better, Anne Arundel County is as bad, YMMV.  VA neither.

Anyway…last week in Baltimore: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Massive Sewage Spill in Baltimore
When it rains, it pours.

…Nearly 4.7 million gallons of untreated but diluted wastewater overflowed from city sewer lines during Thursday’s downpour, spilling down city streets and flooding the lower level of the Penn Station parking garage, a city public works spokesman said Monday.

Six different major sewage overflows occurred in the city, according to spokesman Kurt Kocher, with the largest dumping 4.4 million gallons into the Jones Falls in the 400 block of E. Eager St. near the Baltimore Detention Center…

The total for the day…almost 5MILLION gallons of untreated sewage, it was diluted, though….

Now back to our numbers…if you google Sewage, (Balt, Annapolis, DC, VA, etc) you will find that this is “normal”.  Now add a small factor for the “upstream plants” that simply settle the solids out ((not filter mind you)…see Gary’s description of high tech systems) and dump the rest in to the nearest stream….see Cumberland MD.

Our worst case scenario of ALL registered boats dumping their FULL tanks is but a day’s waste by a very few of the land based systems.  And when you add the fact that we stupidly spend time and money to pump, truck  and dump marina waste back in to the shore side systems for it then to be released back in to the water.


AND before you all jump, I have NEVER pumped or dumped my tanks overboard.  Nor would I.  I have however pumped out, only to see the septic tank 100yards up the shore, overflow and gurgle effluent out, down the marina parking lot and right back in to the river I just came in….

All the best, and to the EPA and CBF….get your targets in sight and leave us alone.