Clean Waters - CT NEMO NEMO Project, educating ... Clean Waters ... absorbent pad handy to

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  • Clean Waters is acollaboration of theConnecticut SeaGrant ExtensionProgram and theUniversity ofConnecticutCooperativeExtensionSystems NEMOProject, educatingindividuals aboutthe impacts ofeveryday activitieson water qualityand simple tech-niques that helpprotect waterresources from thehome well to LongIsland Sound.


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    Bright sunshine, cool breezes, a bitof spray as the bow turns into a wave, the

    chance to swim or fish these are the small joysof a day on the water whether aboard a small sailboator a large motor boat. Smelling sewage, seeing oilslicks on the water, or getting the rudder fouled withfloating trash quickly ruins the experience. Boating as arecreational activity is truly enhanced by clean water.Most boaters know they share the responsibility forprotecting water quality, but the few thoughtlessboaters can cause serious water pollution problems.

    If potential water pollutants are commonly sepa-rated into six major categories (nutrients, pathogens,sediment, toxic chemicals, floatable debris, and ther-mal stress), improper or careless boating practicescan be linked to four of the six categories. Boaterscan make a big difference in protecting the watersthey use by making simple changes in the way theyhandle fuel and motor oils, sewage, garbage, andregular boat maintenance.


    Good boaters and backpackers live by the samemotto, bring back what you take out. Tossing any-thing solid over the side of the boat is a no-no; thatincludes paper, plastic, food, cigarette butts, sodacans, and snarled fishing line. It is ILLEGAL to dumpanything plastic into navigable waters all over theworld. If your boat is over 26 feet long, the lawrequires you to post a sign reminding passengers ofthis law.

    Cut down on the potential for trash going over-board by removing excess wrapping on shore, stor-ing food in reusable containers and using permanentdishes, glasses and utensils on board. Keep trashbags on board and take full bags home or throwthem in trash cans or dumpsters with lids. Encouragethe marina operator to provide trash and recycling

    facilities. Improve your part of the water by pickingup trash that floats by whenever you are docked oranchored.


    Raw sewage is a major source of pathogens andnutrients. Treating sewage in standard marine toiletsystems eliminates the pathogens but can add toxicchemicals and does nothing about the nutrients. It isillegal to discharge untreated sewage into anyConnecticut waters. Even treated sewage should notbe discharged within three miles of shore. Use therestrooms on shore before setting sail. If the boatdoesnt have atoilet, bring aportable toi-let that canbe emptiedon shore, orinclude regu-lar pit stopsevery fewhours.

    If the boat has a toilet, follow the manufacturersrecommended maintenance program and postinstructions where they are clearly visible. Keep atrash can in the head; NOTHING should be flushedinto the holding tank but waste and toilet paper. Usefast-dissolving marine toilet paper and environmen-tally friendly holding tank deodorants and disinfec-tants. At the end of the day, use a mobile or shore-based pump-out facility to empty the holding tank.Look for the national pump-out logo at marinas, orcheck cruising guides or boating directories.

    Dumping fish guts and bait overboard in restrictedwaters like marina basins adds to the hypoxia or lowdissolved oxygen problem in summer months. Livebait, particularly in fresh water areas, has the

    Environmentally Responsible Boating

    Starting in Your Home and YardClean Waters

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    The ConnecticutSea Grant CollegeProgram, based atthe University ofConnecticut, ispart of a nationalnetwork of univer-sity-based pro-grams sponsoringcoastal andmarine-relatedresearch, outreachand education.

    potential to introduce foreign species, like zebra mus-sels, into new habitats where they cause big prob-lems. Recycle fish waste and bait either by burying itin gardens as fertilizer or freezing it until your next trip.


    Millions of gallons of toxic, petroleum-based fuelsand lubricants end up in the water every year as theresult of small spills related to overfilling fuel tanks orpumping out oily bilge water. Most of these spills canbe avoided or quickly cleaned up with proper plan-ning and keeping a few materials on hand.

    Avoid over-filling fuel tanks.Dont rely on automatic shut-offnozzles; they may not work fastenough to avoid splash-back.Instead, listen to the filler pipe toknow when the tank is near full.Remember that fuel expands inthe tank as it warms up and leavea safety margin. Keep an oilabsorbent pad handy to clean updrips. Portable fuel tanks should have their ventsclosed when not in use to avoid fuel vapor loss. Built-in fuel tanks should have a fuel/air separator in the airvent line to prevent spills through the vent.

    Keep the engine properly tuned and maintained forbest fuel efficiency and to avoid leaks. Keep a drippan under the engine if possible. Boats with bilgesshould have an oil absorbent pillow or bioremediationpad with oil-eating bacteria in place to catch stray oil.Dipose of saturated materials at the marina waste oilrecycling station. Never pump out bilge water that hasan oily sheen. Avoid bilge cleaners with detergents oremulsifiers. They dissolve the oil into the water, wors-ening the potential pollution problem.

    If you do spill fuel or motor oil in the water, stop thespill immediately, contain the spill with absorbentpads or booms, and call the Coast Guard for assis-tance. The law states that any spill large enough tocreate a sheen on the water must be reported.


    Whenever possible, do repairs, painting and gener-al maintenance in dry dock to keep paint chips, sol-vents and other toxic materials away from the water.

    Place tarps under boats when sanding or cleaningboat bottoms so debris can be collected and dis-carded properly. Use dustless or vacuum sanders tokeep hull debris under control.

    Recycle used antifreeze, oil and batteries.Encourage marinas to provide appropriate recyclingfacilities.

    Choose the least toxic products available for thejob at hand, and buy the minimum quantity neces-sary to avoid storage and disposal problems. Buynon-toxic or phosphate-free cleaning products.Bio-degradable products may still be toxic. Avoidproducts containing ammonia, lye or petroleum distil-

    lates. Pink (propylene glycol)antifreeze/coolant is significantlyless toxic than the blue-green (eth-ylene glycol) version.

    Follow product directions anduse the least amount of chemicalpossible for the job. Keep caps onbottles except when pouring toavoid accidental spills. Wipe offcleaner and solvent residues

    rather than hosing them over the side. Wash deckswith fresh water and wipe down engines frequently tocut down on the need for stronger chemical prod-ucts. Never dump excess or used chemicals into thewater, down a drain or onto the ground. Improperlydiscarded chemicals make their way back to thewater, whether its your well water or Long IslandSound, and cause serious pollution problems.Solvents and thinners can be used more than once ifthe solids are allowed to settle out, and the cleanproduct is poured off the top.

    Each of these actions may seem so small theywont make a difference, but if every boater andevery person who loves the water changes one ortwo actions, well make a big difference in protectingwater quality.

    Written by Heather M. CrawfordCoastal Resources EducatorCT Sea Grant Extension Program

    For more Information contact: Connecticut Sea Grant,1084 Shennecossett Rd., Groton, CT