Using pumpout stations, boaters divert sewage from Washington waters

Washington boaters in 2018 diverted nearly 11 million gallons of sewage from coastal and inland waters by pumping out their boat holding tanks at 144 pumpout stations, including the Port of Edmonds station.

That’s according to an announcement from Pumpout Washington, a free service managed by Washington State Parks and Washington Sea Grant, as part of The Washington Clean Vessel Act program. It allows boaters to offload their sewage quickly and safely, helping to preserve Washington water quality.

The number of pumpouts in recent years has increased as boater demand has risen, with the most recent site added at the West Beach Resort on Orcas Island last year. More stations are planned, including a solar-powered pumpout boat to be built by the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building for Port Ludlow Marina.

To aid in the pumpout process, boaters may pick up a free pumpout adapter kit designed by Washington Sea Grant at yacht clubs or other organizations that serve recreational boaters. The adapters make it easier for boaters to use pumpout stations without making a mess by creating a secure connection with the pump. To improve reliability of pumpout stations, Washington Sea Grant is conducting a state-wide inventory of functional pumpouts this summer. For more information about the Pumpout Washington program, including a Google map showing pumpout station locations in Washington State, visit

Pumpout stations also make it easier for boaters to comply with the new No Discharge Zone ruling, which went into effect May 10, 2018. The ruling established Puget Sound and certain adjoining waters as areas where boaters may not release treated or untreated sewage from Type I and Type II marine sanitation devices.

Good boating stewardship also comes in the form of preventing oil pollution. Small oil spills account for 75 percent of the oil dumped into local waters. The Clean Bilge Project, managed by Washington Sea Grant, provides boaters with the knowledge and tools they need to stop oil pollution at the source: in the bilge. The Clean Bilge Project offers boaters a free absorbent pillow to be placed alongside bilge pumps and an oil bib that fits around the fuel nozzle to prevent oily discharge from entering the water. This summer, the Clean Bilge Project will receive distribution assistance from Washington’s District 13 Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The Washington Clean Vessel Act program is part of the Clean Vessel Act of 1992 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 Clean Bilge Project is part of the Small Oil Spills Prevention Program funded by the Washington Department of Ecology.

Contact Aaron Barnett, Washington Sea Grant Boating Specialist, at 206-616-8929 or for more information and free kits and pillows.


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