DEEP: CVA Frequently Asked Questions

Clean Vessel Act Frequently Asked Questions

Is discharge of boat waste a problem?

Most of the areas where boats congregate—harbors, anchorage's, and marinas, are naturally sheltered and semi-enclosed. That means these sheltered areas also are not flushed as well as more open waters. The end result is that most pollution that we put there ends up staying there. Bacteria, chemicals, and nutrients contained in human waste from boats can overload small, poorly flushed waterways and cause local water quality problems. Disease carrying bacteria, viruses and protozoa can enter LIS through the direct discharge of boat waste. Direct threats to human health can arise through ingestion of contaminated water or consumption of fish or shellfish which have ingested these pathogens. Scientists have shown there is more bacteria in the untreated waste discharged by one boat than in the treated waste water discharged by a small city.

What is the Law regarding boat discharges in LIS?

All of Connecticut's waters extending from the Rhode Island state boundary in the Pawcatuck River to the New York state boundary in the Byram River and the shore out to the New York state boundary are designated as No Discharge Areas (NDAs).  Discharge of treated or untreated sewage from any vessel is prohibited.  These NDAs have been approved by the EPA and included in the Federal Clean Water Act under Section 312(f)(3).

What is the Clean Vessel Act?

Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) in 1992 after finding that there were an inadequate number of onshore sewage disposal facilities in waters frequented by recreational boats and determining that these vessels may be contributing substantially to localized degradation of water quality. The primary goal of the CVA is to reduce overboard sewage discharge from recreational boats. The CVA provides funds to states for the construction, renovation, operation, and maintenance of pumpout stations for holding tanks and dump stations for portable toilets. Connecticut has an active program to utilize these federal funds to facilitate low cost convenient pumpouts and dump stations.

Under the Clean Vessel Act, $40 million has been distributed to the states over the five-year period between 1993 and 1997. Connecticut’s program has successfully competed for over $1.6 million of the available funds. This is a users pay, users benefit program, where anglers and boaters provide the financial support for fisheries management, boating access and related projects including the CVA pumpout program. These funds come from taxes paid on fishing tackle and motor-boat fuels under the Federal Aid in Sport Fishing Restoration Program.

The Clean Vessel Act was reauthorized by Congress in 1998 and funded under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21). The CVA is presently being considered for reauthorization by Congress as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2004 (SAFETEA).  CVA grants for marine sanitation device pumpouts and portable toilet waste dumping stations were available through Federal FY 2003 at $10 million annually. SAFETEA would extend the availability of funds through Federal FY 2008.  The CT DEEP will compete for a portion of the available funds to support Connecticut's Clean Vessel Act Program.

As a result of the CVA, boaters can expect to see more convenient and reasonably priced pumpout and dump stations, and cleaner waters, resulting in healthier fish and shellfish populations in Long Island Sound and across the country.

 Frequently Asked Questions Continued

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Content Last Updated on June 7, 2012