Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Pollution Prevention

Take the Green Craft Challenge

Sewage Woes

Everybody needs to flush now and then - but where does it go? If your boat doesn't have a holding tank your sewage goes directly in the water where people swim, fish and play. This can cause considerable problems, especially in aquaculture areas and places with low tidal flushing such as protected inlets. Sewage "fertilizes" the water, reduces the oxygen and can result in algal blooms and fish kills. Over 100 different intestinal pathogens - viruses, parasites and bacteria can be found in sewage. This disease and contamination moves up the food chain, into fish, shellfish and humans. Skin rashes, ear aches and stomach ailments are just a few of the side effects associated with exposure to sewage contaminated waters.

If you have a holding tank or a port-a-potty, please use local pump-out facilities. If you don't have a holding tank, perhaps you could consider upgrading your marine sanitation system.

Be proactive, install yours now - for our water's sake.

Sewage Etiquette

Be sensitive in sensitive areas - never pump your sewage over-board in anchorages, marinas, protected inlets, aquaculture sites or swimming areas.

Use rapid-dissolving marine toilet paper and environmentally friendly (ECO-LOGO) disinfectants. Go ashore whenever possible to use the washroom facilities there.

Oil and Water Do Not Mix

Boat engines, automatic bilge pumps, sloppy fuel handling and accidental spills contribute an estimated billion litres of petroleum products to the aquatic environment in North America every year. This has a drastic, often deadly effect on the organisms that live in or depend on this habitat for survival. Toxic heavy metals associated with the oil are absorbed by fish and shellfish and are ultimately passed on to the humans that consume them.

You can do lots of things to minimize the impact that your boat makes in this regard.

  • Boat Engines:
    • Select the lowest emission, most fuel efficient engine. This will save fuel dollars and reduce pollution.
    • Keep engines well tuned for peak efficiency.
    • Inspect for and replace worn lines and hoses.
  • Bilges:
    • Put oil-only absorbent pads in bilge, and secure pads to avoid fouling the pump.
    • Never add detergents or bilge cleaning chemicals to the bilge before pumping it out. They act as dispersants and only spread the oil further.
  • Fuelling:
    • Don't top off your fuel tank. Leave about 5% extra room in the tank for expansion, especially in hot weather.
    • Avoid in-water fuelling - always fill portable tanks on shore.

Reduce It... Then Shore It

When you plan your day on the water, garbage is probably the farthest thing from your mind. Take a few moments to consider the impact that your trash could have on the aquatic environment. Plastic and other kinds of garbage often trap, injure and kill aquatic life and birds. It can also foul props or intake fittings on recreational vessels and leaves an ugly mess when it washes up on our shorelines.

The best place to start to address this problem is to re-evaluate what you really need and minimize what you bring. Then choose reusable or recyclable products. Local marinas have all the details on Nova Scotia's progressive solid waste management program. Beverage containers, tin, glass, some plastics and organics are all collected for recycling/ composting. Check it out and be sure to bring it all back to shore for proper disposal.

Alternative Cleaning Recipes

  • Fibreglass: Baking soda, salt and water
  • Aluminium: 1 Tbsp cream of tartar in half a litre of hot water
  • Wood: Polish with olive oil
  • Windows/Plastic: 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water
  • Brass: Worcestershire sauce
  • Chrome: Polish with baby oil
  • Degreaser: Paste of lemon juice and borax
  • Scouring: Baking soda
  • Mildew: Equal parts of lemon juice or vinegar and salt

Greywater Blues

Greywater is the soapy wastewater from boat sinks and showers. The term is also used to describe the dirty rinse water created from washing a boat. Soaps and cleaners used by boaters contain a variety of chemicals, including chlorine, phosphates, inorganic salts and metals. Many of these are toxic to the aquatic environment.

Most boats do not have the technology required to store greywater - so what can you do? Try these easy cleaning tips.

Greening Your Cleaning

  • Do your dishes on shore whenever possible. When on-board, use vegetable oil-based detergent.
  • Skip the shower and have a sponge bath.
  • Wash your hair with mild baby shampoo.
  • Use environmentally friendly cleaners or follow the alternative recipes provided here - they really work!
  • Use less product and more elbow grease. A quick freshwater rinse and scrub after each trip minimizes the need for harsh cleaners.
  • Wax your boat. A good coat of wax prevents surface dirt from becoming engrained.

... board the Stewardship!