ShoreRivers works to identify and address all pollution sources, including discharge from boats with marine sanitation devices. Boat discharge, especially in marinas, high boat traffic areas, and sheltered coves, can lead to nutrient or bacteria pollution hotspots that pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The newly-designated Chester River No Discharge Zone and the Miles and Wye pumpout boat help to eliminate the chance of boat discharge entering the waterways.
As the result of a multi-year effort by ShoreRivers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designated the Chester River as the second No Discharge Zone in Maryland’s Chesapeake watershed. According to the DNR website, a No Discharge Zone “is an area of water where the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited. This includes raw sewage . . . as well as sewage treated by Type I or II marine sanitation devices.”
In rivers without No Discharge Zones, it is legal to discharge treated sewage into the waters. While treated sewage (from a properly maintained and functioning marine sanitation device) does not contain bacteria pollution, it does contribute nutrient pollution. The Chester River NDZ will be marked with DNR buoys. Once inside the boundaries of the Chester River No Discharge Zone, all boats with marine heads must pump their waste at a discharge station (a list of pumpout locations can be found at shorerivers.org/programs/no-discharge-zone). Violators can face fines up to $1,000.
River-friendly boaters in other ShoreRivers waterways can help to eliminate this pollution source by always utilizing pumpout services. On the Miles and WyeRivers, the ShoreRivers pumpout boat will begin its 2021 season May 21. Boaters are encouraged to take advantage of this free service and do their part to keep our waterways clean and healthy. Pumpout boat Captain Jim Freeman states, “Both transient and local boaters rave about the convenience of using the pumpout boat. We can serve any boater on the Miles and Wye rivers, and can carry up to 300 gallons of waste.”
Now in its fifth year, the pumpout boat program is funded by DNR and ShoreRivers in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The vessel has disposed of more than 74,000 gallons of waste from 1,270 vessels, giving boaters a more convenient way to keep this pollution from potentially entering the Miles and Wye rivers.
Pumpout boat service is available Friday evenings and weekends (including holidays) during the summer and early fall. To arrange service, boaters can contact the pumpout boat by calling 410-829-4352 or on VHF channel 9. To contact Captain Jim with specific questions or to schedule a regular pump out, email POBCaptJim@gmail.com. Please adhere to social distancing guidelines when interacting with the pumpout boat. Visit shorerivers.org for more information on the pumpout boat and the Chester River No Discharge Zone.
ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.