Conservation Corner > Boating and Water Pollution
Boating and Water Pollution
Sep 22, 2009 --
Boating and Water Pollution
Every year boaters spend hours working to keep their watercraft clean and working well. With that comes responsible behavior that we all need to learn to insure that our choice of products and maintenance methods have little impact on the water quality and aquatic life in our lake. The way that we use our leisure time on the lake should leave a minimal environmental impact.
Cleaning your boat should be done out of the water and on a surface under cover such as your lawn, which will prevent rainwater from carrying any pollutants directly into the water. You should wash you boat often with plain water and a sponge to prevent algae and other growth.  If you choose to use a detergent it needs to be phosphate free, biodegradable and non toxic.  Teak wood should be cleaned with a mild soap. 
If painting your boat it should also be done out of the water and a filter fabric used to capture paint or paint chips. If you are sanding or blasting try and use a vacuum type to collect the dust as soon as possible. You need to select fast drying environmentally friendly paints. Non toxic coatings are the best and do contain teflon or silicon to produce a hard slick surface that organisms cannot attach to. Try and used water based paints when ever available.
Trash on the lake needs to remain out of the lake.  Carry a trash container on board so that all garbage can be brought a shore. If by a marina or boat landing be sure to discard it in a dumpster. Fish waste should not be put into the lake. Even though fish are biodegradable, they act like raw waste and can stimulate algae growth.  Bag the waste and dispose of it at home or in proper dumpster.  Portable toilets need to be emptied at a toilet dump station. Portable toilets should be a US Coast Guard approved Marine Sanitation  Device (MSD).
When you are fueling your boat you should only fill it about 90 percent full to allow for thermal expansion. it’s a good Idea to fill the tank just before your trip rather that just after to reduce spills from thermal expansion.  A bilge pump filter should be used which will filter the water of oil, fuel, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Always fill your boat or tanks on land and not on the water.
How about your engine? Did you know that 25 percent of the fuel/oil mixture from two stroke engines are emitted unburned in the exhaust.  New 4 stroke engines decrease the overall emissions by up to 8 times better.  4 strokes are more fuel efficient, fowl the spark plugs less often and internal parts are lubricated with out mixing oil and gas. Be sure your engine is running properly and that there are no fuel line leaks, leaking engine, etc.  If you happen to use anti freeze it is very toxic and should be recycled or disposed of properly.
The purpose here is to keep toxic chemicals out of the lake that can harm plankton, fish and natural aquatic plants. These chemicals tend to attach themselves to waterborne sediments harming bottom organisms that are the ecosystems base food chain.  Boating does have an effect on the lake from potential high toxicity  in the water, increased pollutants concentrations in sediments and aquatic organisms, increased erosion, an increase in nutrients in the water causing more algae and decreased oxygen levels.  One individual boat may not seem like a problem on the water, however multiplied by the hundreds of boats that use our lake they can cause water quality problems. 
Leisure time enhances the quality of our life.  By using environmentally sound practices and carrying out our activities in a way that reduces environmental impact on the lake can go along ways towards making the lake a aquatic  environment  in the future that we can all use for continued leisure time.