Clean marinas help reduce water pollution

By: Phillip Hinesley / Published: May 24,  2018

Well, summer time is almost here and that means time to hit the water and water related activities including my favorite: boating.

With additional boats on the water we need to make sure that boaters and marinas use strategies and practices that employ best management practices on the water that protect, prevent and promote clean water and reduce water pollution. 

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant is working with marina operators and boat owners on a program titled The Clean and Resilient Initiative. This program has been expanded to all five Gulf states by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA). The Alliance has developed new resource materials in a voluntary program for marine industry owners and boaters.

The people who participate in Clean Marina Programs in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are helping protect clean water and control pollution that can harm fish, wildlife and the families enjoying recreation on the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a five-State partnership to promote regional collaboration on the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico, has made supporting Clean Marinas and promoting their resilience to natural and man-made disasters a top priority.

GOMA’s Coastal Community Resilience Team and its representatives from all five Gulf States were charged with responding to this challenge. The Clean and Resilient Marina Program calls for the “promotion and expansion of resilient and environmentally responsible operations and best management practices at marinas.” It builds on the Gulf of Mexico States’ proven Clean Marina Certification Programs. This improved program complements Clean Marina practices already in place and provides additional recommendations to strengthen local marinas’ ability to withstand natural and man-made disasters. GOMA’s Clean and Resilient Marina Guidebook provides marina owners and operators useful information, tools and recommended practices on the following categories:

  1. Marina Design and Siting;
  2. Emergency Preparedness;
  3. Evacuation Procedures;
  4. Storm water Management and Erosion Controls;
  5. Climate Adaptation and Sea Level Rise; and
  6. Outreach and Education for Marina Operators and Boaters.

GOMA, with input from the states, has developed a series of guidebooks that address each category. In addition, there is a policy guide and a list of appendices that address all these issues to help marinas become more clean and resilient. The guidebook also provides a helpful example of a Hurricane Preparedness Plan for marinas that can be used to plan for natural disasters. The guidebook addresses spill prevention control, waste/water cross connection regulations, vessel pump-out procedures and abandoned vessels. 

Alabama and Mississippi have had Clean Marinas designated in the past. However, we are now working to recertify these marinas and others as Clean and Resilient Marinas. Recently a Clean Marina Advisory Committee was formed to provide technical assistance to marina owners. The committee consist of representatives from Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Marine Police, U.S. Coast Guard and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

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