Home Activities & Entertainment Paddling Pumpout Pirates Descend on July 4th

Paddling Pumpout Pirates Descend on July 4th

by Kurt Hoehne

From our friends at Washington Sea Grant:

Avast ye polluters! Washington Sea Grant’s kayakers for clean water will deliver hands-free, spray-free pumpout adapter kits directly to the boaters who need them, making it easier to keep Washington’s waters clean.

Fireworks fans and other celebrants at Seattle’s Fourth of July festivities on Lake Union may notice something new on the water this year. Kayak-borne volunteers will hail yachts and other recreational craft and offer their captains free custom-designed adapters that make emptying on onboard sewage holding tanks cleaner, easier, and safer, plus clean-up kits for small oil spils.

Ordinarily, a boater must hold a smooth rubber nozzle snuggly in the boat-deck drain hole while a powerful pump sucks the contents into a dockside collection tank. A small jiggle can make a big mess – a disincentive to disposing properly of onboard sewage. The adapter clamps the nozzle securely to the drain hole, freeing the hands and making it easier follow the golden rule of clean boating: “Pump, don’t dump.”CannisterLowRes

That rule is also the law. Federal law forbids dumping sewage in all fresh waters and in marine waters within three miles of shore. Federal Clean Vessel Act (CVA) funds, derived from taxes on recreational boats, fishing gear and marine fuel, enable the Washington State Parks CVA Program to support the construction and operation of both onshore and mobile pumpout facilities throughout the state. Washington Sea Grant partners with Washington State Parks to educate marina operators, boaters, and the public about proper sewage disposal and the importance of protecting clean water, and to distribute the adapters.

These efforts kept more than 5.6 million gallons of raw sewage out of Washington’s waters in 2013, up from just 47,000 gallons diverted and treated in 1995 before the CVA started. Since 2012 Washington Sea Grant has delivered adapters and demonstrated their use to more than 7,000 boaters statewide. WSG’s “pumpout pirates” have brought the word and the hardware to hundreds of boats anchored off San Juan Island and at such popular events as Port Townsend’s Wooden Boat Festival and Seattle’s Opening Day.

“Pumpout paddling is really an efficient delivery mode,” explains WSG boating specialist Aaron Barnett. It gets the adapters, together with instructions and sanitary rubber gloves in watertight, reusable plastic tubes, onto the boats where they’re needed. Boaters who’ve already received adapters often shout out to the paddling pirates about how well they work and how they themselves are faithfully pumping, not dumping. “I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has thanked us for eliminating their fear of the dreaded brown shower,” says Barnett, who devised both the adapter kits and the pumpout paddling campaign.

On the Fourth, the pirates will circulate around the lake from 1 to 4 p.m. Boaters who want to be sure they receive free adapter kits may call 206-853-6991 on the Fourth and say where they’re anchored. Media representatives who’d like to observe from a kayak front seat should contact Aaron Barnett at 206-616-8929 or aaronb5@uw.edu.

Based at the University of Washington, Washington Sea Grant provides statewide marine research, outreach and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  www.wsg.washington.edu


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