Please note that this is a change from existing NC law and entails a new responsibility for cruisers.
Subject: Pumpout Log
I learned last night that the NC Legislature has passed a bill requiring recreational vessel owners to keep a log of pumpouts starting on July 1, 2010.
Per NC House Bill 1378: “Vessel owner and operator required to keep log of pumpout dates. (a) Any owner or operator of a vessel that has a marine sanitation device shall maintain a record of the date of each pumpout of the marine sanitation device and the location of the pumpout facility. Each record shall be maintained for a period of one year from the date of the pumpout.” Also, “Section 1 of this act becomes effective July 1, 2010. Fines up to $10,000 may be assessed, and the regulation will be enforced by NC Wildlife officers, USCG and any other law officers with jurisdiction.”
Captain Wade Ehlen
Here’s a follow-up message from Captains Bob McLeran and Judy Young (Judy must be a long-lost cousin). As you will see, looks like portions of the NC coastline are about to become no-discharge zones.
Some areas of North Carolina will be “no discharge” zones commencing July 1st, and requiring all vessels to keep a log of pump outs and requires the owner to secure any overboard discharge valve.
Here’s a link to the bill:
Beyond the legal issues of notice (there are aspects of the bill defining “no discharge” areas that are totally confused and confusing) the one thing that caught my eye is the reference to 33 CFR in this phrase:
“The owner or operator of a vessel with a marine sanitation device shall keep the overboard waste discharge valves of the device secure by acceptable methods set forth under 33 C.F.R. ‘ 159.7(b) so as to prevent the discharge of treated or untreated sewage, except when lawfully discharging sewage at a pumpout facility.”
33 CFR 159.7(b) states “(3) Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position . . .” It doesn’t further define “wire-tie.”
Question for those who know: Does “wire-tie” as used in 33 CFR 159.7(b) include non-releasable plastic (wire) ties? This question comes up every time we get a USCGA courtesy inspection or have the potty-patrol aboard for a get-together.
Captains Bob McLeran and Judy Young
Responses from the cruising community on this issue posted below. As you will see, many cruisers have questions. If anyone has answers, PLEASE chime in by clicking the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
What about boats transiting N.C.?
Captain Joan Clark
Don’t you just love it! We have to keep the head discharge valves locked, maintain a Log of pump outs and face a Ten Thousand Dollar Fine if caught in violation of the law. I know if I pump my daily poop over the side I am going to destroy the inshore waters of my favorite cruising places….one dump at a time. I sit on my friends boat at Lake Norman at the NC Hwy 150 Bridge….and watch the Gusher of fecal matter being pumped into the lake by the County at a rate of Tens of Thousands of Gallons a day….and that is not harmful to the water quality of the Lake. My what a criminal I feel like when I merely piddle over the side of the boat now and then!
Captain Ralph Chappell
Submitted on 2010/05/06 at 5:43pm
I am all for this law. but it needs to be writen by someone who knows what they are doing. This group of law makers never had a boat otherwise they would not write a a law that doesn’t make sense. open your seacock to pump out your tank above ground into the proper facility????????
Captain Cliff Kisby
I appreciate the notice and the free pumpout log. Do you have any idea where the no-discharge zones will be in NC ?? Also, please let us know as soon as you are made aware, if plastic ties will be okay to use…. Thanks,
Captain Randy Umstead
A nylon (plastic?) wire tie has come into general use as more than a wire tie, but in spite of being used as handcuffs, and ankle restraints, it is commonly referred as just a “wire tie”. Wire ties are not ties made of wire. Think about it; would you want to bundle up your wires with a “wire” device that could short out the whole kit and kaboodle? Thus the plastic, or nylon, “wire” ties.
Captain Dick Giddings
As I read the CG regs you can close your valve and remove the handle Idid this as my handle had no way to.put a tie on and secure.Any thoights
Captain Ed Helms, SV Johnnie Cake
The way I read this, it will initially only apply to New Hanover County (Wilmington, Wrighstville Beach, etc.), but I can see other jurisdictions jumping on the bandwagon, hopefully with proper notice. No mention is made of Type I (Lectra-San) devices. They are OK by USCG standards. Is the state pre-empting those? At any rate I would keep a log, especially if I am passing through the Wrightsville Beach area.
Capt. Richard Beesley
One more loss of freedom. Now the government will check our sewerage pump out while they do nothing to assure that the freighters, passenger ships, commercial boats don’t put poop in the water or bring in any nasty crap on their hulls.
When are we going to demand an end to this stupid ecological micromanagement and deal with the serious pollution that is pouring from city street runoffs to industrial dumping?
This should not be accepted by the citizens of this free society.
We are usually in the ocean 5-7 miles out. When we discharge that far out do we need to make note of our location and put it in the log so that when we come in to NC we will be safe from fines?
Captain Pat Washer
So far from what I have read is that a vessel owner must maintain a log but does not have to retain any receipts from the pumpout locations other than to write down the costs of the pumpouts. There is no mention as to whether the pumpout facility must maintain a log that coincides with the vessels it has pumped out. If this is the case then all that is needed to comply with the law is to just make up dates and locations and write them in the log which will make the water cops happy when they look at your log. This sounds just like another stupid law enacted by the idiots who were elected by the sheep of this nation. The only way to stop all of this nonsense is to not vote for any incumbent at election time regardless of their party.
Captain John Adams
How do they gauge when you require a pump. Example….Last pump out was just before I entered NC Waters and just as i am leaving NC waters they stop me, i show them my log and they question me why i show no pump outs in NC…..Now what????
Captain Raymond W. Smith aboard “Fire Dog IV”
I know this is probably a silly question, but given the sometimes nitpicking ways of inspectors, I have to ask. What about porta potties? Most marinas just tell us to empty it into their toilet facility. Must we keep a log also, or is the law specific to those with built in heads and holding tanks?
Captain Joe Babb
FYI, straight from the CFR.
Y valve lockouts
(b) When operating a vessel on a body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated sewage is prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency under 40 CFR 140.3 or 140.4, the operator must secure each Type I or Type II device in a manner which prevents discharge of treated or untreated sewage. Acceptable methods of securing the device include–
(1) Closing the seacock and removing the handle;
(2) Padlocking the seacock in the closed position;
(3) Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position; or
(4) Locking the door to the space enclosing the toilets with a padlock or door handle key lock.
(c) When operating a vessel on a body of water where the discharge of untreated sewage is prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency under 40 CFR 140.3, the operator must secure each Type III device in a manner which prevents discharge of sewage. Acceptable methods of securing the device include–
(1) Closing each valve leading to an overboard discharge and removing the handle;
(2) Padlocking each valve leading to an overboard discharge in the closed position; or
(3) Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold each valve leading to an overboard discharge in the closed position.
[CGH 95-028, 62 FR 51194, Sept. 30, 1997] Captain Keith
In answer to the question, “What about boats transiting NC?”, frankly, any “large vessel” in the coastal waters of NC is subject to this law. I think it would be prudent to have a log after July 1, this year, and if you happened to come from Mantanilla Shoals to Beaufort, enter in the log that you closed the “Y”-valve while still offshore, and record the date and time. So far, there is no requirement to keep receipts from pump-out stations, but they will think of that!
Captain Dick Giddings
Does this law apply to a portable toilet holding tank that could be dumped at home or in the ocean?
Captain Mike Williams
Unfortunately, in the eyes of this law, the Lectra-San is treated as any other “sanitation device”. The tree huggers who wrote this law don’t know there is a safe way to treat sewage before we discharge it. We need to get Peggy Hall working on this.
Captain Dick Giddings
FWIW, the NC statute doesn’t require a separate pump-out log for boats, only that pump-outs be logged. We do that anyway as a matter of course in the log – just like filling the water tanks or getting fuel. Not a big deal for a trawler-crawler.
As far as I can see, of more concern for us is trying to figure out what areas are state “no discharge zones” because an application to the EPA is pending. How are we going to know? What if the EPA disapproves the application? I think this whole situation in NC is ripe for a lot of trouble and litigation over the next couple of years.
Captains Bob McLeran and Judy Young
I may be wrong, but according to my reading of the statute, the pump-out log requirement only applies to boats located in waters designated as a no-discharge zone, not to boats elsewhere in NC.
“77-131. Application of Article.
The provisions of this Article apply only to the following:”
(1) pertains to marinas
(2) A vessel in coastal waters that are either designated as a no discharge zone or are included in a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency to be designated as a no discharge zone unless the
petition has been denied by the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Captain Al Rossiter Jr.
So we’re cruising the ICW through NC; the last time we pumped out was somewhere in South Carolina but didn’t note it in the log. A little further up the “road” we cross into a NC NDZ and get stopped by
the water cops and they ask to see our log. There’s no pump-out event noted in the log. Are we in violation of the statute because we’re currently in a NC NDZ and haven’t logged any pump out?
If we keep our boat (more or less permanently) in an area of NC that is NOT a NDZ, then enter a NDZ, are we in violation of the law because we didn’t log the pump outs we had back in the “free” area?
The point being, how is this going to be applied to boats transiting a NDZ when on the face of the statute it applies only to boats in a NDZ?
Captains Bob McLeran and Judy Young
I have a LectraSan. Do I have to keep an unused log? I took out the ‘Y’ and discharge only through the treatment tank. What about pre-1980 LectraSans in no-discharge zones? (Grandfathered)
Captain Tom Murphy
This “approach” was tried just last year in Canada. I believe it failed to pass the legislature. Guess somebody copied it in NC.
Captain Stu Jackson
All we have to do is keep a log of pump-outs. There is no requirement for a minimum number of pump-outs nor is there any mention of a minimum interval. You just have to keep a record. Once a year might be sufficient. If you show up in an area and don’t get a pump-out there, they will probably also see in your logbook that you’ve recently been in a discharge-OK zone. I believe that upon entering a no-discharge zone it might be prudent to make an actual entry in the book stating that upon entering the zone no pump-out was necessary.
Captain Troy Scott
About portable toilets, I found this:
The term MSD includes any equipment for installation onboard a vessel which is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage and any process which treats such sewage. It does not include “portable devices” which can be carried on and off the vessel. These regulations are effective now for new vessels, and 30 January 1980 for existing vessels.
The article goes on to describe Type I,II, and III.
Wonder what they do to you if you have no device at all? Should one keep a record of bowel movements???
Captain Joe Babb
I read with interest your notice about the new pumpout log requirements in NC. It made me wonder what I should do with regard to my composting head that does not have overboard valves and can’t be “pumped out.” Well, according to the letter of the NC law, a composting head like the AirHead would be considered a “portable toilet,” like a porta potti. Therefore, those of us with porta pottis or composting heads would be exempt. I suspect cedar (or plastic) buckets would also be considered portable toilets. Still, it might pay to print out and keep a copy of the legislation onboard your boat so you can point this out to any law enforcement that happens by. In my experience in many states, local law enforcement and marine patrols in general are not too accurate when it comes to the letter of the law. Here’s what the NC bill says:
3) Marine sanitation device. – As defined in 33 U.S.C. § 1322. The term does not include ‘portable toilets’ as defined in this act.
(4) Portable toilet. – A self-contained mobile toilet facility and holding tank for sewage.
Captain John J. Kettlewell
By far the largest polluters of our waterways are the municipalities and govt’s that try to run our lives. Need to increase employment? Build the infrastructure with state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants. For those bleeding heart liberal democrats, the most notable improvement in the waterways of the U.S. occurred with the Clean Water Act enacted under (hold your breath….) that scoundrel, President Nixon!!! I worked as an environmental engineer at the time and we saw more federal funding for cleaning the waterways with new sewage plants than ever before.
Now to the subject of boaters polluting our waterways? You betcha, get off your lazy butt and be responsible…I’m an avid scuba diver and cruiser and I don’t want to be swimming in your crap! Use the pump outs and stop acting like your communing with nature…I see cruisers pushing back constantly about using facilities. I will agree that there are way too few pump out facilities…marinas have an obligation to seek out the grants and install them!
Captain Durl Evans
I suspect there will be some confusion around this issue for quite some time, particularly with regard to transient boats that are just passing through. I’m hoping the various policing agencies view this as an educational opportunity not as a way to raise funds through tickets and fines. There is so much that is open to interpretation. For example, as far as I can see there is basically just a requirement for a log, not how often or how much one must pump out. And, what about those of us who sail offshore from time to time and therefore take the opportunity to pump out where it is legal? Or, what if you decide to just lock up your tanks and use a porta potti or bucket when in NC? Theoretically, that is legal.
This reminds me of a vagrancy law that was passed by our city council. Downtown merchants were complaining that teenagers were hanging out and scaring off customers. In reality, I think the teenagers were just doing what teens have done for eons–hanging out! In any case, they passed a law that groups of more than two people couldn’t loiter for more than so many minutes in one spot. At first it was used to chase teens away, but the kids quickly caught on and started reporting groups of other people to the police: three grandmothers sitting on a bench, people smoking outside of bars, people waiting for the bus. The police had to come and shoo everyone away, and the uproar quickly nixed the law. Just wait for the outcry when the police start climbing aboard people’s boats to check their potti logs!
In any case, I suspect this is a law created by landlubbers with no idea about how things are on the water, and with the intention of stopping “all that pollution” that boaters create. When we all know in reality that every major study indicates that pollution from boats is usually unmeasureable.
Oh well, I’m hoping the police quickly tire of potti patrol, as did the Coast Guard when they were doing it.
Captain John J. Kettlewell, Editor of The Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook
So as I have read this if I am cruising from the Northeast to Florida do I need to keep a log everytime I go or just in NC waters. Maybe we should just get enough provisions and bypass NC. These lawmakers really need to lookk at the bigger picture and stop bullying the little people that work hard for a living and want to enjoy their lives, and have to worry about taking a $10,000 dump. This country has much bigger problems than that.
Submitted on 2010/05/14 at 11:02am
One can praise the good intentions of the NC legislature. But should also be reminded about the evil results of the law of unintended consequences. Perhaps, the time may come when as part of their sport boaters adopt the challenge of using alternative passage routes via the ocean to completely avoid the NC territorial waters. The unintended consequence would be that our pocket books may end up stimulating South Carolina and Virginia to provide replacement restaurant, tourism support, and marinas facilities located close to their respective borders with NC.
As another alternative, we boaters could explore the upgrading of our marine sanitation devices to the Incinolet type. Wouldn’t it be ironic, all these vessels with Incinolets carrying potty logs with no entries while NC and its marinas are left hanging with those then useless pump out stations?
Let us not stop with just boats (unintended consequence). Let us join the NC legislature and now insist that to clean our waters, we should start first with the most potential serious offenders. Let us request the sewage treatment plants of coastal municipalities be required to start keeping logs of discharges, amounts, and pollutant concentrations. Then, we can find out where the pollution is coming from. Next, we apply a system of penalties that is proportional to the amount of pollution. We may find out that the penalty for one boat-one-discharge cannot exceed more than something like 15 cents if one does not want to bankrupt municipalities from the ensuing proportional penalty for their pollution.
Captain Rodolfo Martinez
Subject: Logs but no pumpouts
I pumped out at Manteo today. The dockmaster told me that Manteo and perhaps Coinjack are the only functioning pumpouts in Eastern NC. He said, “They break down and since they can only charge $5 for pumpouts, it is not worth their while to repair them.” Apparently the state does nothing about it. Couple that with the new pumpout log law and the stiff fines for non-complying boaters. Multipy that by the countless thousands of stupid laws and regulations and you see why I’m so libertarian and anti-government.
Captain Dick Mills