Recreational boating in Alabama is a big sport, this is confirmed by the fact that over one million households in the state have some sort of watercraft. With this in mind, the Alabama legislature put into place the Alabama Marine Sanitation Act, which became effective in 2003. This act is responsible for regulating the sewage discharge that comes from residence boats and recreational vessels.
This Clean B ating and Clean Vessel Act states that all marine sanitation devices are required to meet the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency standards and that it is a violation for any raw or untreated sewage to be emptied from a portable toilet or other sanitation devices that a recreational vessel or residence boat may have on board into any state water. The exception to this is the grey water on board. Grey water is galley water, shower water, bath water and bilge water.
The Alabama Marine Sanitation Act also states that all residence boats and recreational vessels that are equipped with marine sanitation devices must have an annual inspection by a Marine Police officer or by another employee of the Alabama Department of Conservation. If the vessel or residence boat passes inspection, the inspector will issue it a compliance decal.
Although each recreational vessel or residence boat must be inspected and pass this inspection to remain on the water, an inspection can occur whenever any Marine Police officer or other duly sworn peace officer has probable cause to do so. If the officer does discover that a violation of the Alabama Marine Sanitation Act the offender will just get a warning if this is the first offense that they have had, but if it is not the first offense then the fine will be at least $100 and can go as high as $1000.
This Act also stipulates that all marinas with customers that have recreational vessels or residence boats that have a marine sanitation device with a holding tank must install a boat sewage pump system capable of handling boating waste. Marinas that do not have this boat sewage pump or a waste reception capability are not allowed to allow vessels from docking at their facility if the vessel has an on board holding tank that has untreated waste in it.
Boaters who believe that the Clean Boating and Clean Vessel Act or the Alabama Marine Sanitation Act is not important should take a look at what problems this raw sewage can cause if dumped into a waterway. Things that can happen are the water would become unsafe for swimming, the shellfish harvesting area would be affected, and finally, fish and other marine life would be harmed.