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Old 05-06-2014, 04:30   #1
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Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

My wife and I were planning to spend our first over-night on the new boat (1985 Baba 40) now that all the major systems are in place. As I was at the store to buy dish soap, bath soap, etc. for the boat, it occurred to me that our sinks and shower drain directly overboard. As near as I can tell, that is the way she was built.

That leads me to two questions. Where do I stand legally as far as direct discharge from shower and dishes, and where do I stand from an ethical / sharing an anchorage perspective?

Half of me says "you are probably grandfathered, so use bio-degradable camping soaps and move along" and half of me says "don't even think of using the sinks / shower until you retrofit a grey water system".

I guess this should have dawned on me sooner, but we've been busy with other things like fuel tanks and a mast.

Thanks,
Dave.
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Old 05-06-2014, 04:54   #2
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Re: Sinks and shower discharge overboard?

Check the local discharge rules, but I've never heard of gray water discharge restrictions for pleasure vessels anywhere except Turkey (and even there I don't think they are implemented yet), and some small areas in nature reserves. I have only ever seen one pleasure boat with a gray water holding tank in my entire life. In Maryland, there seems to be no restriction on gray water discharge even in No Discharge Zones: Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Boating

In my opinion, gray water is pretty harmless. If you are concerned about it, just use a really biodegradable shampoo and soap.

Requiring gray water to be held and pumped out would be awfully burdensome for pleasure boats, as you would need a holding tank more or less the same size as your fresh water tank. The only way to implement that on most boats, even very large ones, would be to halve the fresh water tankage.
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Old 05-06-2014, 05:07   #3
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Re: Sinks and shower discharge overboard?

Huh! I just assumed in the modern "environmentally conscious" age, dishwater overboard would get you protesters outside the marina. Once again, that is what happens when you assume. Good to know.

Thanks!
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Old 05-06-2014, 05:25   #4
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Re: Sinks and shower discharge overboard?

What Dockhead said.

Still useful to choose environmentally friendly products, and before you wash cookware, capture as much cooking oil as you can with paper towels first... and so forth... but you'll find all pleasure boats around here discharge grey water directly.

-Chris
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:21   #5
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

Baba 40 a beautiful boat; I came very close to buying one 25 years ago.

Pump the grey water overboard and feel no environmental shame... nothing harmed. The next time you pass a freighter or tanker and see them flushing out their bilge, you will then understand just how insignificant an impact your grey water has on... anything.
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Old 05-06-2014, 06:23   #6
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

Same here in Florida. Even in the "no discharge" zone of the Keys/Everglades that only applies to black water discharge, and draining sinks and showers overboard is fine.

I would, however, echo Chris's comment that choosing environmentally friendly soaps--while not legally required--is, in my opinion, the right thing to do.
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Old 05-06-2014, 08:47   #7
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

The whole overboard discharge is silly except in a very small number of specific situations (ie: black water in enclosed marina basins).

Relax it will cause no harm. If it makes you feel better get the eco tree hugger brands of soap.
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:18   #8
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

Have you hugged your tree today?
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Old 05-06-2014, 10:06   #9
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

Good to be conscious about it but you're ok. Don't listen to the tree hugging comments, you're the kind of guy we want to be sharing an anchorage with!

The bilges of a tanker are interesting but careful not to justify anything based on what they do. People can easily extend that to black water when it is inconvenient to go to the tank, because of the practices of big ships, local septics, dogs on the banks, or other runoff from development

Happy sailing, nice boat.
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Old 05-06-2014, 11:13   #10
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

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Have you hugged your tree today?
I tried but dang it hurts.

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Old 05-06-2014, 11:55   #11
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

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. . . People can easily extend that to black water when it is inconvenient to go to the tank, because of the practices of big ships, local septics, dogs on the banks, or other runoff from development
Bit of thread drift, and I suppose this ground has been covered before, but I really think that black water discharge into the sea is mostly ok, too. I wouldn't discharge it in an anchorage where people are swimming; in a locked basin; in a non-tidal marina; near a beach. But otherwise I really don't think it does any harm. This is the position of the UK government, which did a very extensive study of black water discharge from pleasure boats and concluded that no regulation is necessary. So in the UK you can discharge black water wherever you like, other than in marinas and locked ports.

The volume is really important -- the tiny volume of discharges from pleasure boats is quickly diluted to nothing (unlike the situation with discharges from ships) -- remember the old adage "the solution to pollution is dilution". And it's quickly broken down in the sea -- human waste is nothing if not "biodegradable". Even quicker if your black water is macerated, as it is on my vessel.
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Old 05-06-2014, 13:05   #12
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

Wow that is a really unfriendly tree. I thought kiave trees had some mean thorns.
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Old 05-06-2014, 13:16   #13
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

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So in the UK you can discharge black water wherever you like, other than in marinas and locked ports.


Black water discharge is a healt/hygiene problem. Not an environmental one. It is indeed biodegradable. The e-coli bacteria in human waste are the issue. You don't want to many of them in water where children swim in...
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Old 05-06-2014, 13:28   #14
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

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Black water discharge is a healt/hygiene problem. Not an environmental one. It is indeed biodegradable. The e-coli bacteria in human waste are the issue. You don't want to many of them in water where children swim in...
There's always someone who thinks their poop is special.
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Old 05-06-2014, 13:31   #15
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Re: Sinks and Shower Discharge Overboard?

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Originally Posted by K_V_B View Post
Black water discharge is a healt/hygiene problem. Not an environmental one. It is indeed biodegradable. The e-coli bacteria in human waste are the issue. You don't want to many of them in water where children swim in...
Well, again, IMHO, the solution to pollution is dilution. I wouldn't discharge black water where children swim. But a couple of miles offshore -- or a couple of miles up the coast -- I don't see the problem.
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