Information for Recreational Boaters

Waste Disposal Technology Available to the Recreational Boater

Marine Sanitation Devices

  • Type I – Treats sewage before discharging by macerating or chopping the solids and then adding chemicals. Must meet specific standards concerning bacteria content and may show no visible solids.
  • Type II – Provides a higher level of treatment than a type I MSD. Treats sewage biologically and separates the solids for pump-out or incineration. A flow through discharge device that produces effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 200 per 100 milliliters and suspended solids not greater than 150 milligrams per liter. This type of device is typically a biological or aerobic digestion based system.
  • Holding Tank – A holding tank does not allow for the discharge of sewage. The waste is contained until it can be properly disposed of at a sewage pump-out station. Holding tanks are fitted with a Y – valve which allows for the direct discharge of the contents when offshore the 3 nautical mile regulation.

Marina Facilities Waste Management

Pump outs – These devices enable the removal of sewage contents from the holding tanks of boats. There are various kinds of pumps, including vacuum, peristaltic, and diaphragm types.

Dump Stations – These are facilities in which the boater may empty the contents of a portable commode. They are supplemented with a pressurized water hose for aiding cleanup. Pump-out locations>>

Boater Education Program
Maintaining water quality is one of VDH’s primary goals, and one of the ways this is done is by educating boaters about proper methods of sewage disposal. Currently, VDH conducts outreach programs in both Smith Mountain Lake and Hampton Roads. In Smith Mountain Lake, VDH partners with The Tri County Lake Administrative Commission, the Smith Mountain Lake Association, and Bedford County. In the Hampton Roads area, VDH maintains a partnership with The Hampton Roads Sanitation District. These partnerships enhance VDH’s ability to protect the environment and public health. Learn more>>

Internships are a valuable component to achieving the Marina Program’s mission. During the summer, the Marina Program hires college interns in both regions to visit marina, providing pump-out service to boaters. The interns’ value is two-fold. First, they distribute literature that explains the process and the importance of disposing boat sewage properly while being able to answer most concerns boaters may have regarding the proper methods of sewage disposal. Second, the interns pump out boat holding tanks using state of the art equipment. These pump outs are done as a service to the boating community, and are completely free of charge. (To schedule a pumpout, contact the pertaining regional partnership)

Pump-out Services
Both education programs now have access to a truck based pump-out system. This arrangement allows the program to meet boaters at areas that are both convenient and dockside. For festivals and holidays when demand is expected to be greater than usual, VDH has access to a pump-out boat that was partially funded through the Clean Vessel Act and is staffed by either student interns or VDH employees.

Boat Shows
During the months of February, March, and April, VDH reaches hundreds of boaters and marina operators by participating in regional boat shows. VDH personnel are available to answer any questions boaters may have regarding the proper disposal of vessel sewage and any inquiries about the states regulations concerning onshore sanitary facilities at marinas. VDH also provides updated lists of pump-out and dump station facilities throughout the state on these occasions.

No Discharge Zones

A No Discharge Zone is a waterbody or an area of a waterbody into which the discharge of treated sewage from all vessels is completely prohibited. Locations>>