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Old 05-02-2020, 13:30   #1
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How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

When I bought my first sailboat from an old-salt Canadian last year, he was methodically going over the systems with me, educating me with his decades of accumulated sailing experience. When we got to the heads/ holding tanks/ macerator systems, he told me-- very matter-of-factly, as he knew it was my first sailboat-- that you're not allowed to dump in US Territorial waters, but "nobody I know ever takes that rule seriously", going so far as to give me instructions on how to do it on the DL while cruising down the ICW, also showing me how to default the y-valve for the port to "off" in case I ever got boarded by the Coast Guard... I guess the CG can give you a ticket if your system is "dump-ready"?

Naturally, I took this with a grain of salt, but it's also the first boat I've owned that had actual toilets where this was a possible thing to do. At the time, I just made a mental note and we continued on through the orientation.

I've now had my boat for a year, and I've been working on getting it set up the way I want it to be (electronics, wiring, batteries, solar, rigging, etc...) and I'm anticipating being able to get out of the marina and putting it on the hook long-term nearer my home, where I'd go out for regular weekend trips, and will no longer have convenient pumpout services available to me... now sewage management is suddenly something I need to consider carefully, and his words are coming back to mind.

Is he right? Deluded? A threat to society? Is it actually a big deal? There's some scary laws around high fines and the whatnot, but I've also never heard of the "Poo Police" running around issuing tickets or pressing charges. It's gross, but lots of animals do their business in the water all the time, so it doesn't seem like it's a big deal. What's the real story here?
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Old 05-02-2020, 13:35   #2
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

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When I bought my first sailboat from an old-salt Canadian last year, he was methodically going over the systems with me, educating me with his decades of accumulated sailing experience. When we got to the heads/ holding tanks/ macerator systems, he told me-- very matter-of-factly, as he knew it was my first sailboat-- that you're not allowed to dump in US Territorial waters, but "nobody I know ever takes that rule seriously", going so far as to give me instructions on how to do it on the DL while cruising down the ICW, also showing me how to default the y-valve for the port to "off" in case I ever got boarded by the Coast Guard... I guess the CG can give you a ticket if your system is "dump-ready"?

Naturally, I took this with a grain of salt, but it's also the first boat I've owned that had actual toilets where this was a possible thing to do. At the time, I just made a mental note and we continued on through the orientation.

I've now had my boat for a year, and I've been working on getting it set up the way I want it to be (electronics, wiring, batteries, solar, rigging, etc...) and I'm anticipating being able to get out of the marina and putting it on the hook long-term nearer my home, where I'd go out for regular weekend trips, and will no longer have convenient pumpout services available to me... now sewage management is suddenly something I need to consider carefully, and his words are coming back to mind.

Is he right? Deluded? A threat to society? Is it actually a big deal? There's some scary laws around high fines and the whatnot, but I've also never heard of the "Poo Police" running around issuing tickets or pressing charges. It's gross, but lots of animals do their business in the water all the time, so it doesn't seem like it's a big deal. What's the real story here?
Of course he's not right!

Dumping in the ICW .......20 gallons or so of crap. In one spot. along the ICW?

Is it that hard to go to a pump out facility or sail offshore 3 miles?
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Old 05-02-2020, 13:42   #3
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

Why "of course" he's not right?
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Old 05-02-2020, 13:49   #4
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

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Why "of course" he's not right?
Number 1, it's illegal.

Number 2, it's nasty and very unhealthy for anything in the water nearby.

Why don't you get in the water while you are dumping that crap say in the narrow ICW between Pensacola and Ft Walton Beach.

Swim around in it a bit and make sure it's spread out evenly

Better yet, dump it in your back yard.
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Old 05-02-2020, 13:56   #5
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How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

Number 1... ok

Number 2... 3 miles off shore... I would hope for 12 miles.

Pun intended...

https://www.boatus.org/study-guide/environment/waste/
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:10   #6
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

The legality is not in question here. There's also laws that say you shouldn't drive over the speed limit, which many people regularly break with extreme regularity, so I'm much more interested in your second assertion...

1) It's nasty... sure. But it's also nasty when a dolphin or manatee or whale does it, right? Why is human poo special in this regard?
2) What is "very unhealthy" in this context? an acre of water a foot deep has almost 400,000 gallons in it... even in the narrowest section of the ICW we're looking at a concentration of less than 1ppm. And why isn't it unhealthy offshore?

IMO these aren't good, practical arguments against. I was hoping for something a bit more fact-driven, something about the bacterial content in human sewage in contrast to marine sewage, or the likelihood of getting caught doing this by the Poo Police, or how harshly punishments are meted out, not something like "eww gross"...
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:19   #7
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

If “legality is not in the question here”, then why did you ask if it was legal?
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:35   #8
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

If your waste is stored in a hold tank for 3 days or more it begins to septicize and becomes really toxic to the environment. You must have it pumped out or discharge it well offshore. Even sewer treatment plants that rely on bacteria to help break down waste are affected by septic waste. Chemical toilets are not helpful either.

Fish readily consume fresh waste when they are about. In the tropics the Remora (AKA sucker fish or poo sharks ) are often on your hull waiting for it.

The catch is our fresh waste can harbour some nasty amoeba, virus and infections that can cross contaminate filter feeders like oysters and other shellfish which may be consumed. Also a problem is the contaminates entering water which people choose to swim and recreate in. The saltwater does naturally destroy the contaminates in time. How long? Who knows.

Our own common sense (as long as we have the risk assessment based knowledge ) tells us what is OK or not has been taken from us via regulations. That have come about due to our lack of knowledge and respect for the environment we enjoy, perhaps also the larger numbers of vessels these days.

The popularity of composting toilets is increasing and certainly worth consideration.
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:42   #9
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

It’s been argued forever.
Many think human waste is special, it’s so loaded with harmful bacteria and I guess pharmaceuticals etc that any exposure will cause severe harm.

I won’t debate that, it’s illegal, if you get caught it’s apparently an expensive fine, and why do it? When we are traveling the ICW I don’t like to run my watermaker, so by the time the poo tank is full, we often need water and can take some fuel too if we have been motoring everyday, your at the dock anyway, why not?

However when you go the the Bahamas, there is no pump out facilities, so what do you think people do? There may be a couple of hundred boats packed in at Georgetown during the Regatta, and yet it doesn’t seem to cause any harm.

Then take a Google or your locality and see how often there are sewage spills, and how big they are, and seemingly no one dies, not even large scale fish kills etc.

Now in my opinion a basin with little to no tidal flushing is likely very different, there it can build up and be bad.

But this gets us right back to it’s illegal and if your caught it can be a big fine, it’s so easy to pump out why not?

An old expression that drives environmentalists nuts is “the solution to pollution, is dilution”
Many are zero tolerance types, any at all is too much, but I bet that logically there is an amount that nature can deal with, or a Great many neighborhoods are toxic waste dumps what with all the septic tanks and drain fields in all the yards that their children play in.
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:44   #10
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

"But it's also nasty when a dolphin or manatee or whale does it"

My understanding is that legislation, banning marine mammals from pooping in territorial waters, is at the planning stage.
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:46   #11
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

"IMO these aren't good, practical arguments against. I was hoping for something a bit more fact-driven, something about the bacterial content in human sewage in contrast to marine sewage, or the likelihood of getting caught doing this by the Poo Police, or how harshly punishments are meted out, not something like "eww gross"..."

It's not the quantity of bacteria, it's the quality. Human sewage contains particular pathogens of relevance to humans. Cholera, salmonella, need I go on.
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:49   #12
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

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If “legality is not in the question here”, then why did you ask if it was legal?
...I didn't? I asked how seriously it was enforced, with the subtext of "why should I care"...
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:51   #13
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

Each year, billions of gallons of raw sewage from land-based municipal sewer plants overflows into the nations waterways. However, you wont see the Marine Patrol watching those pipes, but dont you dare leave a Y-valve open when they board you!

Yet it keeps the average persons eye off the ball and makes them feel that their politicians are doing a great job. Just sayin'
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:52   #14
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

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Number 1... ok

Number 2... 3 miles off shore... I would hope for 12 miles.

Pun intended...

https://www.boatus.org/study-guide/environment/waste/
Just over 3 is legal and much better than the ICW........
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:53   #15
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Re: How seriously is the 2M dumping policy enforced? (Yet another poo question)

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Each year, billions of gallons of raw sewage from land-based municipal sewer plants overflows into the nations waterways. However, you wont see the Marine Patrol watching those pipes, but dont you dare leave a Y-valve open when they board you! But it keeps the public eye off the ball. Just sayin'
Which doesn't mean you/we have to join in with the pollution.....

It simply isn't that hard to take care of the right way......
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