Clean Marina Initiative
Little things mean a lot, especially when those little things are being dumped into the reservoir system. A few ounces of gas spilled when topping off a boat, a handful of paint chips or sawdust created during a maintenance project, or a cupful of heavy-duty cleanser used to clean a boat deck might not seem like substantial environmental hazards. But added together and multiplied by thousands of vessels at marinas across the Valley, such actions can have a disastrous impact on the river.
To inform marina owners and boaters about the potential effects of their seemingly simple actions, TVA Watershed Team members continued to promote the TVA-led Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Initiative and National Clean Boating Campaign events during the 2002 and 2003 boating seasons.
The Clean Marina Initiative evolved from TVA’s growing involvement in and sponsorship of the National Clean Boating Campaign, which involved special events and interactive learning activities at 125 marinas and 20 boat ramps in 1999 and 2000, reaching over 7,000 boating families. As TVA’s outreach to boaters and marina operators grew, so too did its recognition of the need for a targeted program to address pollution associated with recreational boating.
The result was the Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Initiative, a regional, voluntary program developed by TVA Resource Stewardship and its watershed partners to promote sound, environmentally responsible marina and boating practices that focus on sewage management; fuel management; solid waste and petroleum recycling and disposal; vessel operation, maintenance, and repair; marina siting, design and maintenance; storm-water management and erosion control; and boater education. The purpose of the initiative is to bring about positive changes in water quality conditions through nonregulatory, collaborative approaches with marina operators, other agencies and watershed organizations, and the marine industry.
In the fall of 1999 and during 2000, a successful Clean Marina pilot project was initiated at Shanghai Resort on TVA’s Norris Reservoir. All 75 boat owners with toilet facilities signed contracts for pump-outs, taking advantage of an incentive program offered for the pilot project. During the 2000 boating season over 117,350 liters (31,000 gallons) of boat waste were pumped from 75 boats in the marina on a two-week cycle, compared with 12 boats irregularly pumping in 1999.
Since that initial successful project year, the program has grown substantially in terms of participation by boat and marina owners and in waste collected. In 2001, all 23 marinas on Norris Reservoir committed to properly handling waste within their harbors. In 2002, the Caryville Treatment Plant near Norris Reservoir reported that it had received between 113,500 and 151,400 liters (3,000 and 4,000 gallons) of boat waste per day, which added up to approximately 1.9 to 3.0 million liters (500,000 to 800,000 gallons) throughout the boating season.
During 2002–2003, 25 marinas in the seven-state TVA region qualified to fly Clean Marina flags as a result of their efforts to minimize boating-related pollution. Another 22 Valley marinas anticipate receiving the certification in 2004. In addition to the Clean Marina flag, certified marinas received a certificate to display, recognition in TVA’s publications and on its Web site, and the opportunity to use the Clean Marina logo in marina promotions.
Earning a Clean Marina flag is no easy task. To do so, marinas have to meet rigorous standards— everything from proper handling of boat sewage to safe fuel management to public education—in addition to meeting all federal, state, and local regulations related to marina management. These marinas have gone beyond what is required by law, according to TVA Clean Marina Coordinator Linda Harris. “Not only do our Clean Marinas they meet all federal, state, and local regulations related to marina management, they’ve voluntarily adopted a number of recommended practices to minimize the effects of boating activity on water quality. These additional practices include such actions as the use of spill prevention materials while fueling boats, increased vegetation along shorelines to buffer wave action, and greater interaction with marina customers to encourage individual stewardship of the water resources.”
Watershed Team Support
TVA Watershed Teams provide support to marina operators working toward Clean Marina certification by:
- Helping them assess their operations and facilities to identify areas where improvement is needed
- Providing the Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Guidebook and other resources and helping identify possible solutions to problems
- Developing and offering workshops in response to marina operator requests and identified needs
- Introducing them to a variety of nontoxic, environmentally friendly marine supplies and remediation products that support Clean Marina guidelines.
In recognition of the Tennessee Valley’s ranking as one of the “best regional National Clean Boating Campaign programs in the country,” Chattanooga, Tennessee, was chosen to host the fifth annual National Clean Boating Campaign celebration in June 2002. The free event, held aboard TVA’s Red Wagner tug and barge, featured educational clean boating activities, exhibits and vendors from across the country, field trips, and music.
The Clean Boating Campaign, which was created by the Marine Environmental Education Foundation, promotes good stewardship of water resources by boaters, marina operators, boat dealers, and the boating industry. TVA is an active partner in the campaign, along with federal agencies, conservation organizations, and the boating industry.
For more information and a list of marinas that have earned the Clean Marina flag, go to Clean Boating. Information is also available from TVA Watershed Teams. Plus, see the National Clean Boating Campaign Web site.