This month Charleston Waterkeeper is proudly celebrating the one year anniversary of our Mobile Pumpout Program. Since launching our pumpout boat, the No 2, last year we’ve safely removed 13,842 gallons of marine sewage (as measured by our MarineSync MS1). That’s not all, the number grows every week! We regularly service over 40 clients and requests for pumpouts come in daily (call (843) 608-9287 to schedule your pumpout).
Discharging untreated marine sewage in our waterways is illegal. Most marine head systems provide only a minimal level of treatment for sanitary waste. High bacteria levels from sources like marine heads can impact our right to safely recreate and harvest shellfish from local waters.
Cheryl Carmack, our staff water quality scientist, explains: “Data from our water quality monitoring sites in the lower Ashley River show enterococcus bacteria levels that exceed state water quality standards for safe swimming and shellfishing.”
In an effort to reduce bacteria levels, the No 2’s captain, Herman Miller, focuses his work in the lower Ashley River. “Several marinas only offer shoreside pumpout stations” he says “It’s really just a matter of making boaters aware of our service. Once they find out it’s the right thing to do and it’s free, they quickly become repeat clients.”
Charleston Waterkeeper is not content serving only the lower Ashley River though. “Over the next year we’ll be working to expand the program to cover new territory” adds Andrew Wunderley, our Program Director and Staff Attorney. “We’re especially interested in marinas near open shellfish grounds and areas the public uses for water-based recreational activity.” The team’s goal is to remove 45,000 gallons of marine sewage by November 2015.
Operating the Mobile Pumpout Program is truly a team effort. Charleston Waterkeeper is thankful for the support of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Clean Vessel Act Program, the Charleston City Marina, and, of course, our Pumpout Program clients! Their generous support helps make this program possible and your waterways cleaner!