Clean Boater Program

Sewage Disposal

The Clean Water Act prohibits discharge of untreated sewage into U.S. territorial waters. Generally, this is within three miles of the coast. Long Island Sound (LIS) is within these territorial waters and therefore, no discharge of untreated sewage is permitted anywhere in LIS.

Marine Sanitation Devices

All boats with an installed toilet are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Marine Sanitation Device (MSD). Macerator pumps are not considered MSDs. There are three types of MSDs:

  • Type I MSD — Treats sewage so that discharged effluent meets specified standards for bacteria content and contain no visible solids
  • Type II MSD — Similar to Type I, but must meet a higher standard of sewage treatment
  • Type III MSD — Retains untreated sewage in a holding tank for disposal at pumpout facilities or discharge beyond the U.S. Territorial Waters. Does not treat waste.

Untreated sewage threatens the Sound with nutrients and pathogens, particularly in sheltered areas like harbors and mooring sites not highly flushed by tide or current. Poor water quality closes shellfish beds and swimming areas for the protection of public health. Your actions control water quality. Be considerate of others and the environment. Best management practices dictate that treated sewage from your Type I or Type II MSD are never discharged dockside, near shellfish beds, at anchorages, or near swim areas.

No Discharge Areas

All Connecticut coastal waters are federally designated "No Discharge Areas" (NDAs). Other states are also establishing NDAs with the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Within these areas, the discharge of sewage, treated or untreated is prohibited. In these areas, only a Type III system is legal. If your head is outfitted for direct discharge or to a holding tank, the y-valve must be locked in position to divert the sewage into the holding tank. Currently, the following "No Discharge Areas" have been established in local waters by the EPA:

It is illegal to discharge untreated sewage (empty your holding tank or use a direct discharge toilet) anywhere in Long Island Sound or Fisher’s Island Sound or into any of Connecticut’s waters. Boaters may discharge untreated waste three miles beyond a line drawn between Montauk Point, New York andWatch Hill, Rhode Island (the Territorial Sea Demarcation Line). Unless the water body is designated as a "No Discharge Area," boaters can discharge treated sewage from a Type I or Type II U.S. Coast Guard certified Marine Sanitation Device in coastal waters. However, this practice is discouraged in near shore waters and areas of high boat concentrations and prohibited in designated No Discharge Areas.

There are approximately 90 pumpouts located throughout Connecticut waters. To locate a facility near you, visit the CVA Facilities/Pumpout Map.  Visit the DEEP's Clean Vessel Act website to learn more about the Clean Vessel Act.

Holding Tank Additives

Additives come in a variety of forms and chemical compositions. Harmful ingredients to avoid are formaldehyde, formalin, phenol derivatives, ammonia compounds, alcohol bases, or chlorine bleach. These chemicals can damage your toilet system and harm the environment. Frequent pumping and rinsing of your Type III system negates the need for these harmful chemicals.

Tips for Sewage Disposal

  • Install a holding tank or portable toilet.
  • Use pumpout stations and pumpout boats. Visit the CVA Facilities/Pumpout Map to locate facilities in Connecticut or contact Connecticut DEEP's Boating Division 860-434-8638.
  • Use marina restroom facilities when in port.
  • Establish a regular maintenance schedule for your MSD, based on manufacturer's directions.
  • Rinse your holding tank hoses with fresh water often to reduce odors.
  • Avoid chemical additives in your holding tank. Use safe enzyme-based products.
  • Use environmentally safe, fast dissolving toilet paper made especially for RVs and boats.
  • Never dispose of fats, solvents, oils, emulsifiers, disinfectants, paints, poisons, phosphates, diapers or other similar products in your MSD.
Content Last Updated on December 26, 2019.