4.1G – Marina Siting and Design – Sewage Facilities

Management Measure

Install pumpout, dump station, and restroom facilities where needed at new, expanding and existing marinas to reduce the release of sewage to surface waters. Design these facilities to allow ease of access and post signage to promote use by the boating public.

Management Practices

  • Restroom Facilities
    Marina owners or operators should ensure that there are clean, conveniently located restroom facilities available for those who use the marina, and should encourage their use by customers before casting off.
  • Pumpout Sewage Collection Systems and Services
    At least one onshore sewage collection system or mobile sewage pumpout service should be installed/provided for every 10-300 slip renters and visiting boats greater than 16 feet in length (one more per every 300 additional slips and visiting boats) adapted from Clean Vessel Act guidelines and Department of Boating and Waterways, State Vessel Waste Disposal Plan. Pumpout services should be provided at convenient times and for a reasonable cost, and stations should be kept clean. Collection systems include the following: Fixed-Point Systems: Pumpout facilities located at one or more central locations; Dump Stations for Portable Toilets; and portable/Mobile Systems: Pumpout facilities that can be moved to the location where a boat is docked. Signs should be clearly marked and in multiple languages, as appropriate.
  • USEPA designated No Discharge Zones
    Consider declaring the marina a No Discharge Zone if it is not already in a federal or State-designated No Discharge Zone.


  • California Department of Boating and Waterways provides educational resources and guidance on vessel pumpout facilities, California law governing the discharge of sewage, and management practices.
  • California SWRCB has finalized the General Order Requiring Owners and Operators of Specified Vessel Terminals Located in Newport Bay and Huntington Harbor to Install, Maintain and Operate Pumpout Facilities and Dump Stations Where Necessary to Protect Water Quality (Water Quality Order No. 2004-0017-DWQ). USEPA has designated Newport Bay and Huntington Harbor "No Discharge Zones" in 1976. SWRCB has found that it is apparent that adequate housekeeping of pumpout facilities and education of facility users are major issues that need to be addressed in Newport Bay and Huntington Harbor. In addition, Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) staff believe that there is a need for additional pumpout facilities and for the installation and proper operation of dump stations. This order requires vessel owners to comply with this order in a timeline established by the SWRCB.
  • Clean Vessel Act of 1992 Pumpout Grant Program, established by Congress, is administered by the California Department of Boating and Waterways. The Clean Vessel Act grant funds are available the public and private sector. Grant recipients receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the cost of installing or renovating equipment for sewage pumpout facilities.
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Sanitation Device (MSDs), Section 312 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), as amended (33 U.S.C. 1322), requires Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) to prevent the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated sewage into U.S. waters. It requires a certified operable MSD on every vessel (U. S. and foreign) with an installed toilet. Installed toilets that are not equipped with an MSD, and that discharge raw sewage directly over the side, are illegal. Section 312(g)(2) of the FWPCA directs the Coast Guard to certify MSDs.
  • USEPA, No Discharge Zones (NDZ) if a marina is inside a NDZ, there are specific regulations that need to be followed pertaining to type of marine sanitation devices that can be used and the signage that has to be posted to notify the public and boaters that they are in a NDZ. For example, it is illegal to release wastes, treated or not, into NDZs. To date, California has designated the following NDZs: Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor, Dana Point Harbor, parts of San Diego Bay, Channel Islands Harbor, Avalon Bay Harbor, Upper and Lower Newport Bay, Sunset Bay, Richardson Bay, Lake Tahoe, and Huntington Harbor.

Information Resources

  • California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW), Sewage Holding Tank Systems for Recreational Boats this fact sheet describes California law on sewage holding tanks, and includes information on system design, equipment selection, installation and maintenance.
  • DBW, Shipshape Sanitation this fact sheet explains the California laws regarding vessel sewage discharge, and the importance of proper disposal.
  • DBW, Vessel Pumpout Locations provides the names and phone numbers of marinas with vessel pumpout facilities, which can be sorted by name, city, or region. Regional maps are also available online.
  • San Francisco Estuary Project, MSDs and Pumpout Stations this fact sheet describes the importance of properly disposing of sewage and tips for following management practices.
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Marine Sanitation Device Regulations this fact sheet describes federal regulations and includes a list of no discharge areas in California.
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) this fact sheet provides answers to frequently asked questions about MSDs.
  • USEPA, No Discharge Zone Evaluation this report presents the final findings of USEPA’s study evaluation of the effectiveness of vessel sewage "No Discharge Zones" established by states under Section 312(f)(3) of the CWA. USEPA surveyed boaters and marina around the country to obtain information about pumpout availability, pumpout use, and No Discharge Zone awareness.
  • USEPA, Vessel Sewage Discharge Program contains regulatory and technical resources on vessel sewage discharge and marine sanitation devices.


USEPA. 2001. National Management Measures Guidance to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Marinas and Recreational Boating. EPA 841-B-01-005. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

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