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EPA Guides Marinas on Best Ways to Prevent Water Pollution

Release Date: 05/24/2012
Contact Information: John Martin (212) 637- 3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) With Memorial Day and summer approaching, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recommending that New York State marinas take steps to prevent the pollution of local waterways. At the Albany Yacht Club this morning, EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck highlighted the best environmental practices for reducing pollution from boat washing and other maintenance activities that can degrade water quality. These practices are captured in an easy-to-read manual created by the EPA with assistance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It has been provided to over 500 marina operators throughout New York State and provides recommendations on ways marina owners and operators can reduce pollution through more efficient use of materials, energy and land.

“Marina operators play important roles in protecting the health of our coastal waters and beaches," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "The products used in boat maintenance often contain chemicals that can cause serious damage to the marine environment. The EPA is working with the marina industry to ensure that marina operators are aware of the best practices for reducing pollution and make every effort to prevent pollution from occurring.”

Cleaning products and toxic chemicals used in boat maintenance can pollute waterways when they are washed into the water when it rains. The effect of runoff from a single boat or marina on a water body may seem insignificant, but when multiplied, it can degrade water quality. Because marinas are located at the water’s edge, the water is affected by maintenance practices and pollution that flows into the water from surrounding areas.

Earlier this year, the EPA entered into legal agreements with three Westchester County marinas for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The marinas had each failed to renew their stormwater permits and failed to conduct annual monitoring associated with stormwater discharges, which is required under the permits. The Huguenot Yacht Club of New Rochelle, the Beach Point Club of Mamaroneck and the American Yacht Club of Rye each agreed to pay penalties ranging from $8,500 to $9,900 to settle these violations.

Key recommendations for preventing water pollution from boat operations and maintenance:

  • Regularly inspect above-ground fuel storage tanks and associated piping for leaks, and ensure that these tanks have secondary containment areas to contain spills.
  • Store spill containment and control materials in a clearly marked and easily accessible location attached or adjacent to the fuel dock. Keep oil absorbent pads and pillows available at the fuel dock for staff and customers to mop up drips and small spills.
  • Avoid underwater boat bottom cleaning or hull scraping to remove antifouling paint from boat hulls.
  • Make every attempt to collect wash water, treat it and either dispose of it at a sewage treatment plant or recycle it.
  • Perform as much boat repair and maintenance as practicable inside work buildings. Where an inside workspace is not available, perform abrasive blasting and sanding within spray booths or tarp enclosures.
  • Use cleaning products that are less toxic and contain lower concentrations of volatile organic compounds, ozone depleting chemicals and toxic materials. Always clean with water and a coarse cloth first.
  • Permanently seal floor drains in maintenance areas with concrete if they do not connect to a sewer or holding tank. Sweep or vacuum floors often and immediately before floor washing.
  • Use propylene glycol antifreeze (usually pink), which is less toxic than ethylene glycol (usually green) to winterize all systems except “closed” or freshwater cooling systems.
  • Minimize impervious areas on the marina site by paving only where absolutely necessary. Plant a vegetated filter strip or buffer between impervious areas and the marina basin.

EPA Region 2’s Best Management Practices for Marinas are available at: http://www.epa.gov/region02/p2/documents/best_management_practices_marina_facilities.pdf

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