NHDES’ Clean Vessel Act Program prepares boaters for upcoming season

Date: May 06, 2024

When the weather begins to warm and the snow melts away, thousands of recreational boaters begin the process of unwrapping their boats and preparing for the upcoming season on the water. In this exciting and busy time, it’s easy to forget best practices to protect the environment, including some of the regulations that surround recreational boating and well … human waste! Releasing sewage directly into a waterbody can harm the environment and expose people to bacteria that make them sick. If your boat has an onboard head (toilet) or other plumbed fixtures, there are several things that must not be overlooked this coming season: 

  • a pumpout hoseALL inland, tidal and coastal waters (within three miles of shore) are federally designated “No Discharge Areas” (NDAs). Any kind of wastewater discharge in these areas is strictly prohibited. 
  • Onboard plumbing flow-through valves or “Y-Valves” must be turned OFF so that wastewater collects in the holding tank of the vessel and is not directed into the body of water (RSA 487:2). 
  • KNOW where the nearest pumpout stations are. There are numerous options for inland pumpouts in the Lakes Region and on the coast. Check the list of New Hampshire Boat Pumpout Facilities to see which locations are operational and closest to your recreation area. 
  • The NHDES coastal pumpout boat, the “Royal Flush,” will be operational for the 22nd year at no cost to boaters. Simply call (603) 670-5130 or (VHF: 9) to schedule your boat’s pumpout. 
  • If your boat does not have an onboard head or wastewater holding tank, please collect waste appropriately and dispose of it properly at a sewage dump station, which can be found at many marinas. 
  • If you cannot find a dump station, call (603) 271-8803. This might help us identify service areas in need of Clean Vessel Act (CVA) funding. 

For the sake of our state’s recreational opportunities, water quality and ecosystem health, it is imperative that boat wastewater is disposed of properly. The CVA grant program is a federally funded state program that helps ensure easy and reliable access to boat pumpout and waste-dump stations for proper boat sewage disposal. It is funded through excise taxes on fishing equipment and boat fuel. This program has been active in the state of New Hampshire for nearly a quarter of a century. 

Questions, comments or concerns related to the CVA program or about grant funding to construct, operate and maintain a public pumpout station can be directed to Jake Reynolds at (603) 271-8803 or CVA@des.nh.gov