Clean Boating

It’s not so hard to follow clean boating practices—and doing so can make a big difference in keeping reservoir waters clean. All it takes is a little knowledge, and a willingness to make a few changes to your routines.

Here are our top tips for clean boating:

Keep Bilge Clean

  • Keep engines properly tuned and operating at peak efficiency.
  • Transfer and remove fluids with care, using funnels, pumps and oil-absorbent pads to catch drips and clean up spills.
  • Regularly inspect lines and hoses for leaks and replace as needed.
  • Avoid pumping any bilge water that is oily or has a sheen to it.

Monitor Fueling

  • Know your fuel tank capacity and allow 5 to 10 percent for fuel expansion; place a container over the air vent to catch any overfill. Listen to hear when the tank is getting full and slow the fuel delivery rate as the tank nears capacity.
  • Use an absorbent pad around the nozzle to catch any splash-backs or drips. Clean up any spilled fuel with absorbent cloths.
  • Ventilate engine compartment before starting engine.

Take Action if a Fuel or Oil Spill Occurs

  • Stop the source.
  • Notify the marina office and call the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at (800) 424-8802.
  • Clean up the spill with absorbent pads or contain it with booms.
  • Never use soap to disperse a fuel or oil spill. It is harmful to the environment and against the law.

Keep Boating Waters Free of Litter

  • Bring back what you take out.
  • Stow loose paper, plastics and other items to prevent them from blowing out.
  • Keep trash containers handy. Dispose of trash properly.
  • It’s your responsibility to inform all visitors on your boat where to put trash.
  • Retrieve trash floating in the water and dispose of it at the marina.

Keep Fish Waste Out of the Water

  • Too much fish waste in a marina basin can impact water quality.
  • Clean fish at home or use a cleaning station. Wrap fish waste before placing in a trash container.
  • Do not release unused live bait into the water as this can introduce foreign species.

Manage Sewage Waste Properly

  • Use onshore restrooms when possible.
  • Keep your marine toilet properly maintained.
  • Find out if you are on a discharge or a no discharge reservoir. On discharge reservoirs, properly treated sewage may be discharged into the main channel. On no discharge reservoirs, it is against the law to discharge any sewage into the reservoir. Always use a marina pump-out service.
  • Empty portable toilets at dump stations or in bathrooms.

Remove Boat from Water for Repairs and Cleaning

  • Do boat repairs and cleaning at the boat yard, where wastewater can be collected and treated.
  • Rinse your boat with fresh water after each use to minimize the need for soaps and scrubbing.
  • Use phosphate-free, chlorine-free and nontoxic cleaning products.

Public Land Information Center

A single source for answers to your questions about shoreline land use, permitting procedures, water quality, recreation and other issues related to the environment.

Call (800) 882-5263 or ask a question online.

Leave No Trace

TVA is a partner in Leave No Trace, a national and international environmental education program dedicated to increasing awareness of the potential environmental impacts that may occur during outdoor recreation. Learn how to enjoy nature while minimizing your impact on it on the Leave No Trace website.