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New EPA rules can benefit marinas and boating

Itís not too often we can be thankful at Thanksgiving for some new federal agency rules. But, the Environmental protection Agency†has just issued a final rule aimed at reducing water pollution from construction sites. And, while I suspect the agency officials were not thinking about benefits for marinas and boating when they promulgated these rules, implementing them will do so. The rules, which will be phased in over four years starting February 2010, will require construction site owners and operators to implement a range of erosion and sediment control measures. In addition, pollution prevention practices to control pollutants in discharges from building sites will also come into play.

Activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. Proper management of the soils can prevent it from being washed off the construction site into nearby waterways during storms. EPA maintains these new requirements will improve the quality of the nationís water. Thatís benefit enough for boating! But thereís more.

A reduction is soil and sediments can have a positive impact on such things as fish and desirable vegetation because of the improved overall aquatic environment. But it doesnít end there, either.

The new rules are projected to reduce the amount of sediment discharged from construction sites by 4 billion pounds each year. That’s sediment that currently goes into our waterways often ends up in navigational channels and in adjacent marinas. The result is that millions of dollars must be spent annually to dredge the sediment from the channels and marinas.

I know first hand. For many years I kept my boat on a small river in Eastlake, Ohio. Several miles upstream were large construction projects. Due to a lack of adequate requirements concerning the control of sediment runoff from such sites, the marina owners and boat clubs located downstream were forced to pay for expensive annual dredging to stay operational. We always asked the rhetorical question: Why do people upstream fail to control their runoff and we get stuck picking up the tab for dredging it up so we can operate our marinas?††

Now Iím not saying, of course, that these new EPA rules will eliminate all the dredging problems. Hardly! But, if they save marina owners and their customers even a small percentage of the annual dredging needed nowadays, it will be a most welcomed benefit to boating.

Incidentally, this is the first time the EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements with enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges. Looking ahead, many bodies of water could see some benefits from these new rules.


6 comments on “New EPA rules can benefit marinas and boating

  1. George

    WOW this surely is great news!! Why didn’t we think of this sooner? More welcome regulation is just what we need. I can”t wait for dual catalytic converters, engine air pumps, and more emissions standards to come. Norm, you surely are a genius and now I know why the marine industry looks up to you. You’re the best!!

  2. Capt. Charlie

    I agree with George. Norm, I don’t get some of your recent posts. First you reccommend that a few promoters monopolize boat shows and now you promote the EPA laying its heavy hand on boating???
    If you think Wall Street damaged us, the EPA’s over the top decisions will BURY US! Aligning with the EPA is a fast track to entry level runabouts starting at $40k.

  3. tony

    It would be from my experience, that the first places the EPA will pounce on to enforce these regulations will be MARINAS!!!!! There is NO such thing as a good EPA regulation!!!

  4. don

    Norman and staff,
    Congratulations on your professional presentation.
    In Queensland, Australia, we have this system in place for about the last five years. The EPA does not fool around. Fortunately, they use the soft approach without the threat of a big stick, usually. Random inspections have the boat yard operators really aware of their responsibilities. The yards and slipways that did not comply with suitable sediment filtering, somehow ceased to exist. Whilst it is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction to protect our children’s heritage.
    The EPA here is commonly referred to as ‘The Possum Police’.

  5. Ron Woerpel

    Judging from the comments, EPA is not exactly high on the ‘guest list’ of invitees to many marina businesses! And no wonder…..generally EPA will create laws and regulations, but never really give a sound way of dealing with the problem. However, the CZARA/1993 (Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments) document (like a phone book!), Chapter 5, specifically targets Marinas and boatyards regarding all types of pollution, including storm water runoff. And they actually offer suggestions on how to deal with the problem…..just not many professionals in our industry are willing to take the time to read it and seek solutions for their respective operations!

    Our company has been at the forefront of this problem since 1992! Please visit our website to view:

    We developed the Hydro-Cartridge over a decade ago to help marina owners meet EPA compliance for storm water pollution. We were way, way ahead of the curve on this issue. However, only a few ‘forward thinking’ facilities actually have implemented our inexpensive technology to protect their adjacent waters from runoff pollution. We have great success with our products…..but, what I have found over the years is that most marina owners and/or managers will only do something when forced to do it! Hence the hate of the EPA. By the time they get involved, it is time for a fine or worse. I can’t begin to tell readers how many times I have briefed marina owners on this issue over the past 16 years….only to have them tell me that “I’ll worry about it when EPA tells me to do something…..” Well, it’s happening, folks! And, the issue of water quality should be foremost in all boaters minds…..who likes fishing or swimming in polluted waters??? If you’ve ever been to a beach or coastal area after a good rain fall event, and observed what has been sucked down storm drains only to end up on the shore or the mangroves (as in the Florida Keys or Everglades coastal zones), then you’ll appreciate where EPA is coming from.

    Yeah, EPA (and Florida DEP) are not perfect, and generally they’ll just fine you and tell you to hire an Environmental professional to solve your problem! But, if owners and operators would just take some of the advice BEFORE EPA/DEP comes snooping around, they would be on the agency’s “Nice List” and certainly avoiding fines. The Clean Marina Programs are great….but, many facilities will do a good “dog & pony show” to get certified, then fail to continue the implementation of ideas because they have received their certification. It really comes down to the owners of marinas….they are the ones who face losing money to fines, and even customers who disdain a “piggy” marina. A lot of what is needed to be done to protect water quality is really just pure common sense! I’ve seen so many violations of the Clean Water Act that it really makes me sick. People dumping trash overboard, pumping out oily bilge water, dumping old batteries overboard…..I’m saddened when I see this. But, I also get vessel names, take pictures, or do whatever is necessary to report these types of individuals to the US Coast Guard or FL Marine Patrol. Unless people stand up and take such action, then the negative actions by a few go unpunished, and ultimately hurt all of us who truly love the ocean and all it provides for fun and entertainment.

    So, if you want to do the right thing and deal with the storm water runoff issue, please contact us at 1-800-738-7646 or go to our website. We give out a lot of free advice (stuff that could easily cost a facility thousands of dollars from an environmental engineer!!) when helping marinas meet these ‘new’ regulations. And, we have one of the best solutions out there…proven over 16 years! :)

    So, Norm, don’t let all the naysayers get you down…..some folks NEED to pay fines and/or go to jail in order to protect our valuable natural resources! I applaud your efforts to inform the marine industry….keep up the good work! RW

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