Water Purity vs Marine Toilets
Writing about the use of marine toilets on Lake Allatoona isn’t the most pleasant subject, but some things need to be said in order to keep the lake as healthy and pure as possible.
Spending a few hours or a few days boating on Allatoona is blissful. Swimming, fishing, sliding into the water, sleeping with the gentle rocking of occasional waves, cooking out and hanging out on the lake is dream come true.
Sooner or later, everybody has to use the bathroom. Some boats have what are called “marine toilets.” Others have a system that dads call, “Really? You’re telling me now? This is why I told you to go before we left the dock! You’re just going to have to hold it.”
According to the Wildlife Resources Division of GA’s DNR, all vessels (including houseboats and floating cabins) equipped with a marine toilet must have a waste-water holding system to prevent the discharge of waste products into surrounding waters.
A marine toilet is considered to be any equipment for installation onboard a boat which is designed to receive, retain, treat or discharge sewage and any process to treat such sewage. A “porta-pottie” is not considered to be a marine toilet.
In Georgia, it is illegal to pump out sewage from a waste-water holding system or from a portable toilet or marine sanitation device into surrounding waters, except into an approved pump-out facility or into a sewer system located on dry land.
All boats equipped with a marine toilet must be registered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. You will be issued a Marine Toilet Certificate decal which must be affixed to the hull adjacent to the boats registration number. The one-time certification fee is $5.00. No renewal of the certificate is required and it is transferable to any subsequent owner of the boat.
The issue of waste being dumped into our waterways is so serious that boats equipped with a marine toilet are prohibited on many of our lakes, including:
- Bull Sluice Lake
- Goat Rock Lake
- Lake Burton
- Lake Harding
- Lake Jackson
- Lake Oconee
- Lake Rabun
- North Highlands Lake
- Seed Lake
- Tallulah Falls Lake
- Tugalo Lake and
- Yonah Lake.
It is illegal to discharge oil or hazardous substances. You are not allowed to dump oil into the bilge of the boat without means for proper disposal. You must discharge oil waste to a reception facility. On recreational boats, a bucket or bailer is adequate.
If your boat is 26 feet or longer you must display a 5 x 8 inch placard near the bilge pump switch stating the Federal Water Pollution Control Acts law.
Vessels equipped with a marine toilet must be equipped with a holding tank that is built so that it can only be emptied by being pumped out.
The “Y” valve must be removed to prevent discharge if operated on these lakes:
- Blue Ridge
- Clarks Hill
- Walter F. George Reservoir or
- West Point.
You must maintain a record, going back at least one year, of the name and location of the pump-out facilities you use to empty your holding system and the dates of such use.
If your boat discharges oil or hazardous substances in the water immediately call the U. S. Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802. Call the Georgia Environmental Protection Division at 1-800-241-4113 within 24 hrs. of the discharge.
Please follow these regulations. The water you pollute today might be what you drink tomorrow.