The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved the Marina Pump-Out Outfitting Program (MPOOP) at today’s regularly scheduled meeting to reduce pollutant discharges from liveaboard vessels by expanding the number and use of sewage pump-out facilities. The program can assist local marinas with navigating how to install required vessel sewage pump-out systems. County Code requires marine facilities with 10 or more slips or one or more liveaboard slips be sent an official notification that an on-site fixed pump-out system is required to be installed. Once noticing is sent to a marine facility, that facility will have 12 months to complete the installation. Once installed, the equipment must be kept operational to ensure that pump-out service is available to all customers. Regardless of size, all marinas must provide educational signage to inform boaters about the importance of pumping out and locating pump-out stations. Prior to setting deadlines, the MPOOP program is available to assist marine facilities that wish to voluntarily install the required pump-out equipment on their property before the notices are sent out. No date has been set for when official noticing will begin.
“There are nearly 500 marine facilities in Monroe County with about 500-1,000 liveaboard vessels at these locations,” said Celia Hitchins of Monroe County’s Marine Resources Office. “Less than a third of these facilities have the required on-site vessel sewage pump-out equipment.”
When noticing is sent, existing facilities without the required systems will have a 12-month implementation period, but there is up to 75 percent funding assistance available from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grant program to come into compliance. The CVA program can cover costs associated with the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of pump-out equipment, as well as other miscellaneous costs like signage.
“Designing and installing pump-out systems can be a daunting infrastructure project, especially for small mom-and-pop marinas since it can take significant time and resources to implement,” said Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron. “I am pleased that there is substantial grant money available to offset the cost and that our Monroe County Marine Resources office is here to assist the marinas in navigating the funding process to help them come into compliance.”
Additional information, an educational video, step-by-step permitting guidance, contact information, and sample projects and costs can be found at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/mpoop or by calling 305-289-2500.
“The program supports the Florida Keys No Discharge Zone that protects Monroe County’s fragile natural resources,” said Hitchins. “By assisting our local facilities, marina owners and operators can move forward in a proactive way to help protect and enhance our nearshore water quality.”