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Old 02-12-2008, 12:39   #1
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how do you handle your gray water?

By the letter of the law you should not dump untreated shower or sink water into the bay. How do you handle this when showering? Do you have a large gray water tank or just look the other way? I'm looking at getting a live aboard trawler in the next couple months but want to make sure I’ve thought this out.

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-12-2008, 13:20   #2
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Originally Posted by donnie144 View Post
By the letter of the law you should not dump untreated shower or sink water into the bay. How do you handle this when showering? Do you have a large gray water tank or just look the other way? I'm looking at getting a live aboard trawler in the next couple months but want to make sure I’ve thought this out.

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Not sure which letter of which law you are referring to. With the exception of large luxury yachts, most all vessels I have been on have only overboard discharge drains for sinks and showers. Even the large vessels with grey water holding tanks have bilge pumps built in to discharge overboard once the tanks fill up to a certain level. You may live on a bay with stricter discharge laws. If so you will need a hold tank like the one for your sewage. The drains might all connect into a sump with a pump to put them into the holding tank for pump out.
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Old 02-12-2008, 13:29   #3
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Thanks Chuck
Where I gut the buy the letter of the law is that according to the marinas interpretation of it no turbidity, sheen, etc can be discharged into the waters. This would include soap bubbles. But this could be a Washington state thing not an EPA thing. Or just the marinas.
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Old 02-12-2008, 13:31   #4
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As long as the soap is bio-degradable there are no issues. So what does the marina do for folks that want to wash their boat? Is this not allowed? There must be some really dirty boats in Washington State.
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Old 02-12-2008, 13:44   #5
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I too have heard that there are laws in effect prohibiting grey water discharge and we are in Calif. I also know that rarely are these laws enforced.
As for soap suds I am curious why shower/sink suds would be illegal but suds from washing your boat seem to not be a problem. But maybe I am wrong about that.
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Old 02-12-2008, 13:47   #6
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I believe that is what I said but not sure????
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Old 02-12-2008, 14:13   #7
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Ummm gee sorry Chuck. I honestly have no desire to parrot your post.
I had started typing my post before you posted and did not see your post until after.
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Old 02-12-2008, 15:05   #8
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No problem, just having a little fun with you
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Old 02-12-2008, 15:48   #9
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Hmmm well great minds think alike
I know boat soaps are all biodegradable but what about shampoo and dish soaps? It seems I have heard most are but maybe someone can confirm.
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Old 02-12-2008, 15:57   #10
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Prior to the federal clean boating act this fall all boats would have been subjected to the same rules as ocean going commercial vessels. It would have required every boater to get an EPA permit. They are now exempt. Sometimes the fools fix things. As far as state and marina rules go you are on your own. Other than sewage there are no federal rules to worry about aside from the ordinary things like fuel / oil discharge rules. The prior situation with federal laws would have covered gray water nationally. It would have ended recreational boating as we know it.
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Old 02-12-2008, 17:48   #11
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Bath with suds free bio. soap and pump away..all mine collect to a central separate sump then the bilge and go overboard..No see... no foul.
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Old 02-12-2008, 18:09   #12
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As for soap suds I am curious why shower/sink suds would be illegal but suds from washing your boat seem to not be a problem. But maybe I am wrong about that.
Its in the wording of the Clean Water Act of 1973 concerning point source pollution. A point source is a tube or sleuceway that discharges a pollutant into a body of water. There cannot be any (according to the original law) difference between the temperature and color of the discharge and the the water. The difference between spraying off your boat and direct discharge is that the water coming out of the hose is clean, or mostly, depending on your marina (hehe). Anyways, thats what it is. Just think, if you were subject to the true letter of the law, the discharged water from your running engine's cooling system, AC, and other stuff would be illegal, due to high temp. It would never happen, because enforcement of major polluters alone is incredably hard.
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Old 02-12-2008, 18:16   #13
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Sinks directly overboard, showers to a sump which pumps overboard.
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Old 02-12-2008, 21:31   #14
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My sinks drain overboard, but since I'm in the PNW, I wondered if I'm going to have to do something about it and found a couple of things.

Note that it says gray water "should be contained", it does not say must in the Bell Harbor link below.

(I put stuff copied from the links in italics.)

Here are some of the Bell Harbor rules on gray water from
http://www.portseattle.org/downloads/seaport/2007_BHM_BMP.pdf :

Gray water discharge from sinks, laundry and showers may be harmful to aquatic life within the marina and contains
bacteria in sufficient quantities to be a public health concern. Gray water should be contained and pump-out stations
utilized. A list of pump-out stations is available in the Marina Office.

The discharge of laundry water from a vessel is prohibited.

Reduce gray water generation by reducing the use of sinks, soaps and detergents and by rinsing your vessel with clean
water. If you must use soap, use more environmental friendly soaps (no chlorine or petroleum distillates). If a gray
water discharge displays turbidity, oil sheen or discoloration to the receiving water, then Washington Department of
Ecology’s water quality standard in RCW 90.48 has not been met. Vessel owners are subject to fines and penalties
when this standard is violated.

Use sink screens or strainers and dispose of strained waste in the garbage



I went to the state's RCW (Revised Code of Washington) link they gave and the definition and law is so general that they could nail you for anything.

Chapter 90.48 RCW: Water pollution control

First half of definition of pollution:

90.48.020
Definitions


Whenever the word "pollution" is used in this chapter, it shall be construed to mean such contamination, or other alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties, of any waters of the state, including change in temperature, taste, color, turbidity, or odor of the waters



I particularly like the part in the following that says it is the determination of the department as to whether it is pollution or not.
90.48.080
Discharge of polluting matter in waters prohibited.


</B>It shall be unlawful for any person to throw, drain, run, or otherwise discharge into any of the waters of this state, or to cause, permit or suffer to be thrown, run, drained, allowed to seep or otherwise discharged into such waters any organic or inorganic matter that shall cause or tend to cause pollution of such waters according to the determination of the department, as provided for in this chapter.




John

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Old 02-12-2008, 21:40   #15
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Yep and when sewage treatment plants stop discharging into our rivers which run into the bays I will start listing...

We do not discharge anything at any marina irregardless
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