Boaters, Marinas To Get $1.9 Million To Keep Gulf, Lakes Sewage-Free

Oil isn't the only threat to our coasts. Sewage is, too. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to run a campaign this summer that encourages recreational boaters to use pump-out stations along the coasts of Florida as well as in lakes throughout the state.

The DEP administers grant monies from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Clean Vessel Act of 1992. This year Florida received $1.9 million to fund the construction and installation of sewage pump-out facilities and floating restrooms, to purchase pump-out boats and to provide educational programs for recreational boaters, as they have been since the program's inception in the early 1990s. To date, the seven counties that comprise the Tampa Bay region have received a total of $2.2 million, with Pinellas receiving the largest portion at $1.1 million.

According to Kristin Lock, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, any marina can apply for a grant that will reimburse 75 percent of the building and installation costs of pump-out facilities.

"Untreated sewage from boats contains disease-causing microorganisms," explains Deas Bohn, DEP's director of Sustainable Initiatives.."If discharged into the water, these organisms can impact our environment as well as human health. Sewage can spread disease, contaminate shellfish beds and lower oxygen levels necessary for aquatic species to survive. Proper disposal and treatment of boater sewage is essential to protecting Florida's waterways."

Federal and state law prohibits discharging raw sewage in all fresh water or within nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Kristin Lock, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

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