Safe Responsible Boat Operation
Some recreational boats will have an installed toilet on board for its convenience during long boating trips. However, understand that it’s illegal to allow raw sewage to escape into territorial U.S. waterways (when you’re boating within 3 miles from shore).
The Clean Water Act requires all boats with installed toilets to be equipped with a Coast Guard-approved Marine Sanitation Device (MSD). An MSD is a system that’s designed to retain, treat and/or release sewage from recreational boats.
Note: Swimmers can catch serious bacterial infections if they are exposed to raw sewage.
No Discharge Zones
A ‘No Discharge Zone’ could be a land-locked waterway, a drinking water intake area or a marine habitat that’s environmentally fragile. In these areas, Type I and Type II MSDs (the types that discharge treated waste into the water) must not be used and must be secured to prevent accidental release.
California’s No Discharge Zones are:
El Dorado and Placer Counties: Lake Tahoe
Los Angeles County: Avalon Bay Harbor
Marin County: Richardson Bay
Orange County: Dana Point Harbor, Huntington Harbor, Newport Bay (Upper and Lower), and Sunset Bay
San Diego County: Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor, and San Diego Bay
Ventura County: Channel Islands Harbor
How to secure your MSD:
- Padlock the overboard discharge valves in the closed position.
- Close the overboard discharge valves and remove the handle.
- Lock the door to the space where the toilet is kept.
Identifying Pump-Out Stations
If a marina has a Pump-Out Facility for your MSD, there will be a clearly visible sign to identify the Pump-Out Station.