Beating the Pumpout Station Blues

Pumping out the holding tank Photo: courtesy of Three Sheets Northwest

Pumping out the holding tank
photo courtesy of Three Sheets Northwest

Going to the Pumpout station is one of those tasks that no boater seems to look forward to doing.

The Washington Sea Grant Program has developed a new Free Pumpout Adapter Kit to help boaters avoid the dreaded “Brown Shower.” The free pumpout Adapter Kit has a plastic adapter that screws into the existing waste discharge deck fitting on a boat, the adapter fitting has a cam lock that will lock onto the pumpout hose to help prevent spills, the kit also has instructions, protective gloves and a web link that will help you find where pumpout stations are located in Washington State. The Pumpout Adapter Kits will fit about 90% of the boats in use, if your boat uses the smaller sized pumpout fittings there is contact information in the Pumpout Adapter Kit to request a smaller fitting for your boat.

The Pumpout Kits are funded funded by the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program.  The Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program contracts with Washington Sea Grant to provide educational outreach for the Washington State Clean Vessel Program

Pumpout Adapter screwed into the waste pumpout fitting. Photo: courtesy of Three Sheets Northwest

Pumpout Adapter screwed into the waste pumpout fitting.
Photo: courtesy of Three Sheets Northwest

Washington state waters within three miles of a coastline, inland lakes and rivers are Raw Sewage No Discharge Zones, so finding and using a pumpout station is more important than ever to both help protect the environment and prevent fines. News headlines of beach, swimming and other area closures has helped raise the public’s awareness of the importance of water quality. As boaters and the public become more environmentally aware, setting a good example also helps the public’s image of boaters.

Surveys have shown that boaters want to protect the environment and water quality but have been frustrated in the past by the difficulty in finding working pumpout stations.

The Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program has been working for several years to upgrade existing pumpout stations and help marinas install new pumpout stations. also has a matching grant program for locations wanting to update their sewage disposal systems. The grants reimburse locations for up to 75% of the purchase and installation costs of sewage disposal facilities that serve recreational boaters and will also reimburse locations for up to 75% of their annual operation and maintenance costs. The Sea Grant program helps to connect marinas wanting to upgrade their facilities with the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program.

Pumpout Adapter Kit Contents

Pumpout Adapter Kit Contents

The free Pumpout Adapter Kits are being given out by the Washington Sea Grant Program, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and other groups at boating safety events, public events, boating safety classes, other community events and meetings. The pumpout kits area also available directly from the Washington Sea Grant program in Seattle.

The video below shows how to pumpout your holding tank both with and without the adapter kit.

How to get to the Shilshole Marina.

Use the Form below to reserve a Free Pumpout Adapter Kit or request information about having a Free Vessel Safety Check for your boat at the Vessel Safety Check Day being held by Flotilla 21 at the Shilshole Marina on April 27, 2013. You can stop by in person from around 9:00 am to Noon on the west or water side of the Shilshole Bay Marina main building to pickup your Pumpout Adapter Kit, request a Free Vessel Safety Check or just ask that odd boating safety question that has been bugging you for some time. Boats on trailers are also welcome or you can stop by just to pick up a Pumpout Adapter Kit. If you reserve a Pumpout Adapter Kit by April 25, one will be held for you to pickup on April 27.

A Vessel Safety Check is a free inspection by the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the Power Squadron to see if your boat meets the proper State and Federal safety requirements. The Vessel Safety Check is not an enforcement action. If your boat passes the exam, a sticker will be placed on the boat showing that it passed a VSC. A VSC is valid until December 31 of the year it is issued. A Vessel Safety Check is not an enforcement action. If your boat does not pass the VSC the examiner will review the reasons for the issues. No record is kept of the failure and no ticket can be issued.

More information on how to pass a Free Vessel Exam.

More information from the Washington Sea Grant Program, including locations of Pumpout stations in Washington State.

The Clean Vessel Program is available nationwide, and also includes areas and territories such as American Samoa, Guam. The funds come from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund and are generated from taxes on the sale of boats, recreational boating fuel, small engine fuel and taxes on fishing tackle and gear. The Clean Vessel Program funds are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and each state is eligible and has a program person or group that administers the program on behalf of their state. A special thanks to Alan Wolslegel for also providing this update on the national scope of the Clean Vessel Program.

Correction: The original article identified the source of the funds for the Pumpout Kits and Marina Upgrades as the Washington Sea Grant Program.  The funding comes from the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program as a grant to the Washington Sea Grant Program.  Thanks to Alan Wolslegel the Washington State Clean Vessel Program Manager for calling this to my attention.  My apologies  for the error.

How to use the Pumpout Station Video, Intro, How to use a standard Pumpout station starts at 0:38, how to use the new Free Pumpout Adapter Kit starts at 3:00.

Click Here to find out where the Coast Guard Auxiliary Will be handing out the Pumpout Adapter Kits or doing Free Vessel Exams  at public events or to request more information on having your vessel examined.

February 5, 2014 Update: In 2013 the Coast Guard Auxiliary gave out over 400 of the Pumpout Kits at different events.  About 1,000 Pumpout Kits were given out at the 2014 Seattle Boat Show by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Washington Sea Grant.

In 2013 Washington State Boaters pumped out about 5.5 million gallons of Poo, That is a cube of Poo about 90 feet on a side, or covering a football field almost 13 feet deep.  This is an increase of about one million gallons (up about 22%) over previous years.

January 28, 2015 Update: In 2014 Washington State Boaters pumped out about 6.1 million gallons of Poo.  That is a cube of Poo about 93 feet on a side.

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