David Gooch is a boater with a lifelong connection to Casco Bay. When asked why he always pumps-out his blackwater, David recalls a vivid memory from his childhood growing up in Falmouth.
“We used to swim down at Town Landing, back in the 1950s,” says David. “At times there was toilet paper on my shoulder and little brown boats floating in front of my face.”
From that young age, it has been clear to David that sewage does not belong in Casco Bay. While the brown boats David remembers from childhood are no longer encountered at Falmouth Town Landing, he remains adamant that boaters have a responsibility to follow the law and care for the Bay’s waters.
Pumping out your boat’s sewage does more than keep poop and fecal bacteria out of the Bay: it also prevents nitrogen pollution. Urine contains nitrogen in the form of urea. Casco Bay has long struggled with excess inputs of nitrogen. Too much nitrogen in the Bay contributes to the growth of nuisance and harmful algal blooms, which in turn can exacerbate coastal acidification. By keeping pee out of the Bay you are helping to reduce nitrogen pollution in our coastal waters.
“There’s no reason to not pumpout your boat,” says David, noting that many pumpout services around the Bay are free of cost, such as the pumpout station at Falmouth Town Landing. “The old saying was ‘dilution is the solution to pollution,’ but it’s not true anymore.”
We at Friends of Casco Bay could not agree more with David. As boaters, we know that there are more boats on the Bay than ever before. For the health of our coastal waters, we all must practice habits for a healthy bay.
Don’t pee or poop in Casco Bay
It is illegal and harmful to discharge sewage into Casco Bay.
Casco Bay is a federally-designated No Discharge Area, which means it is illegal to release blackwater (raw or treated sewage) from any vessel into the Bay — this includes peeing over the side. All boats in Casco Bay must hold their blackwater until it can be removed at a pumpout facility. It is also illegal for any vessel to discharge graywater (shower, sink, or onboard laundry water) that is mixed with blackwater.
For smaller boats without an onboard toilet, urine and feces must be collected and disposed of at facilities on land. Many boaters keep an emergency bucket onboard for such situations.
We may ask ourselves: Casco Bay is large, how can one person’s waste have a negative impact? The EPA has said the untreated sewage from one weekend boater contains the same quantity of bacteria as the sewage from 10,000 people that has been processed by a treatment plant. Considering that thousands of boats anchor and pass through Casco Bay each summer, the harmful impacts of boater sewage can add up fast.
To learn more, visit http://www.cascobay.org/
Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay.