TALLAHASSEE – This week the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grant program launched a new awareness campaign, Pitch In-Pump Out, to inform marinas and boaters about keeping Florida’s waterways clean through proper disposal of boater sewage. Boaters should use pumpout stations at marinas and boat ramps or have their boats serviced by a pumpout boat. Marinas can do their part by installing pumpouts for boaters to use and by operating pumpout boats.
Captain Rick Murphy, the official spokesperson for Pitch In-Pump Out, is a well-known Florida sportsman and host of Sportman’s Adventures with Captain Rick Murphy on SunSports. He will be featured on television and radio ads airing statewide spreading the message to pitch in and pump out.
“We are very excited to begin this campaign with Captain Rick Murphy and encourage boaters and marinas to be active in protecting Florida’s waterways,” said DEP Interim Secretary Mimi Drew. “It is important that boaters know how to properly dispose of sewage, and that marinas know about the grant money available right now to help them purchase and operate pumpout equipment.”
Marine facilities can take advantage of CVA grants that reimburse 75 percent of the total costs of approved pumpout projects, leaving the marina responsible for only 25 percent of the total in matching funds. To offset out of pocket expense, the program also allows facilities to count in-house labor costs and pumpout boat trade-in values toward meeting the required match. With an average cost of $12,000 – $75,000, pumpout projects allow sewage to be removed from a boat and then disposed of through established treatment procedures.
The remodeled Pitch In-Pump Out website, www.PitchIn-Pumpout.com, provides easy access to all grant application forms and clear, easy-to-follow steps through the application process as well as an online application for marinas. The site also provides tips for boaters on proper pumpout techniques and a listing of pumpout stations in Florida.
With more than 2,000 marinas, Florida has the largest number of marine facilities in the country. Drawing millions of visitors each year, Florida’s clear waters, world-class beaches and coral reefs support a $60.8 billion tourism industry, an $18.9 billion boating industry and a fishing industry that injects more than $7.5 billion a year into Florida’s communities.
When sewage is sent overboard, it can negatively impact both the environment and human health. Sewage contains disease-causing microorganisms and can reduce oxygen levels in water that fish and other aquatic species need to survive. To date, more than 10.5 million gallons of raw sewage from boats has been prevented from being discharged into Florida waters because one of the state’s 411 pumpout facilities were used.
About the Clean Vessel Act Grant Program
The Clean Vessel Act of 1992 was signed into law to reduce pollution from vessel sewage discharges, prohibiting the discharge of raw sewage into fresh water or within coastal salt-water limits. The act established a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which to date has awarded more than $172 million for states to install thousands of sewage pumpout facilities. Grants are available for construction and installation of sewage pumpout facilities at marinas or the purchase of pumpout boats.