Vessel Discharges

CWC Position

Boats should use private or municipal pump-out facilities rather than discharge their treated or untreated sewage and graywater into the Indian River Lagoon. 

The State of Florida must designate the Indian River Lagoon as a “No-Discharge Zone” to have an enforceable rule.

About Vessel Discharge

The discharge of untreated sewage from boats into waters of the state is prohibited by both state law (Florida Litter Law 403.413, F.S.) and the federal Clean Water Act.

There are areas in state waters that have been designated as No Discharge Zones (NDZ). A NDZ prohibits the discharge of any sewage, whether treated or not, from a vessel into these state waters. In Florida, there are NDZs near Fort Walton Beach and around the Florida Keys.

The Clean Water Coalition will work with state and federal elected representatives to have the Indian River Lagoon designated as a No Discharge Zone. 

CWC believes that nutrient-pollution impairment of the Indian River Lagoon is sufficient evidence to require a ban as provided under Section 312(f)(4)(A) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1322(f).

That said, the bureaucratic process of creating a NDZ can be lengthy and complex.  In summary, we must show:

  1. The Florida DEP must declare that the Lagoon requires enhanced protection from additional sources of nutrient pollution, and 
  2. The U. S. EPA determines that sufficient pump-out facilities are reasonably available. CWC is working to document and map local pump-out facilities by talking with local marinas, clubs, boatyards, as well as mobile pumpout services.  CWC supports the upgrading of pumpout facilities at the City of Vero Beach Municipal Marina. 
  3. Having determined these two requirements, the state of Florida can ban discharges under authority of 33 U.S. Code § 1322 (f)(1), or the EPA may determine the need, and invoke a ban under § 1322 (f)(4).

Under section 312 of the CWA, vessel sewage may be controlled through the establishment of areas in which discharges of sewage from vessels are not allowed. These areas are also known as “no-discharge zones” (NDZs).

The regulations allow for four methods of securing a Type I or II marine sanitation device (MSD) while in an NDZ, including:

  • Closing the seacock and removing the handle;
  • Padlocking the seacock in the closed position;
  • Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position; or
  • Locking the door to the space enclosing the toilets with a padlock or door handle key lock.

For Type III devices, the following options are available:

  • Closing valves leading to overboard discharge and removing the handle;
  • Padlocking any valves leading to overboard discharge in the closed position; or
  • Holding overboard discharge valves closed using a non-releasable wire-tie.