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The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Monday that more than $1 million in federal funds are available for boat sewage disposal facilities - pumpout stations - on Long Island Sound for the 2015 boating season.
The program is administered by DEEP with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Clean Vessel Act Program. This year, Connecticut was one of several states receiving the highest grant award in the country, which helps to fund the program grants and the staff that manage statewide pumpout and boater education programs, DEEP said in a news release. All recreational pumpout facilities in Connecticut are now offering the service free to boaters.
DEEP is requesting grant proposals from owners and operators of public or private marine facilities that wish to install a new marine sewage disposal facilities; facilities with an existing MSDF in need of substantial repairs or upgrades; or to obtain funding to operate a new or existing MSDF, including pumpout boats and central vacuum pumpout systems that are incorporated within the marina or boatyard dock system.
“The continued success of pumpout programs for boaters significantly improves the water quality of Long Island Sound, increasing the quality of swimming, fishing and other recreational opportunities in Connecticut,” DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said. “This latest round of grant funding will allow us to continue and expand those programs – as well to provide financial assistance to municipalities, small marine businesses and nonprofit organizations along our shoreline.”
Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act 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 act is to reduce overboard sewage discharge from recreational boats. It 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 free and convenient pumpouts and dump stations.
Since 1993, DEEP has worked in partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service, marinas, yacht clubs, boat yards, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations to install more than 98 land-based pumpout facilities, 21 dump stations, 18 pumpout vessels and four pumpout vessels associated with marinas for a total of 141 pumpouts to accommodate the removal of recreational marine sewage from vessels to preserve and protect water quality in Long Island Sound. Since that time, all of the waters of Long Island Sound in Connecticut and New York have been designated by the EPA as a federally approved, no-discharge area.
Funding for this program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuels. Up to 75 percent of the cost of an approved project may be reimbursed under the program, whose purpose is to increase the availability of proper waste handling facilities for boaters which will reduce the discharge or poorly treated or untreated sanitary wastes into the waters of Long Island Sound and its harbors, thereby helping to improve water quality.
The program has awarded more than $12 million in grants since 1993 to fund more than 588 projects in Connecticut. DEEP said it plans to continue funding for these facilities to further improve water quality in the Sound and other boating destinations in the state, including rivers and lakes in inland areas.
Proposals must be received by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 28.