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EPA seeks comments on discharge practices

BoatU.S. is asking its members to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency how they operate and maintain their boats as the agency develops and eventually implements best management practices to address.

The Clean Boating Act called for permit requirements targeting "normal operating discharges" from commercial ships. The act also required the EPA to analyze recreational boat discharges and eventually require "management practices" to address environmental concerns.

The deadline for comments is June 2.

"Management practices would be methods, techniques or tools which could mitigate any environmental impact of normal discharges into our waters," BoatU.S. vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich said in a statement. "They will vary according to boat type and what that vessel could potentially discharge. For example, the EPA is looking at engine maintenance and could create a management practice that requires the use of a bilge sock to soak up oil in your engine compartment. Of course, this couldn't apply to a rowboat. But it's important to understand they are looking at all recreational watercraft."

To hear boaters' concerns and suggestions, the EPA has set up two ways to communicate:

  • Boaters can be heard at the agency's weekly online webinars, which started March 21 and will end April 25. Click here for the dates and to register for these listening sessions.

The EPA is looking at several broad categories of vessel discharges, including the use of antifouling paints and zincs; gray water (from showers and sinks); bilge water (with concern about oil and grease, which already is illegal to discharge); the use of cleaning products; the disposal of garbage and fishing waste; and the transportation of invasive species.

The law requires the EPA to consider many factors when it develops management practices, including the type of discharge and its environmental effect, any effects on operation or safety, costs, international standards and applicability to state or federal laws.

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