Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – With the 2018 boating season now underway, Ocean County officials are reminding boaters that Barnegat Bay is a no discharge zone and urge the use of Ocean County's free pumpout boat service.
"Barnegat Bay is an environmental jewel in Ocean County," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the pumpout boat program. "This free service provides boaters with the opportunity to have wastewater from the boat collected and disposed of properly.
"This is a key component in keeping our waterways clean," he said.
Ocean County officially kicked off the 21st season of its Pumpout Boat Program Memorial Day weekend.
Ocean County's pumpout boats are specially equipped vessels capable of emptying the on-board toilets and tanks of other boats, thus keeping waste from entering the bay. The boats cover different areas of the bay throughout Ocean County. The pumpout boats can be accessed by contacting the captains on VHF Radio Channel 9. In addition, cell phone numbers for the captains are listed on the program's website and in promotional materials.
"This year we also have launched a Facebook page for the pumpout boat program," said Vicari. "This page includes information on whether the boats are operating based on weather, other tips on safe boating and information pertinent to the program.
"It's important that boaters can access this information," he said.
Boaters along with residents and visitors are encouraged to like the page on Facebook. They can find it by searching Ocean County Pumpout Boat Program or visiting https://www.facebook.com/pumpoutoceancounty/
Since Ocean County launched the pumpout boat program in 1997, more than 77,000 recreational boats have been serviced and about 1.6 million gallons of effluent has been properly removed from recreational boats using Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor.
"This is a major step in ensuring our coastal waters remain clean," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "This program has grown in popularity over the years and Ocean County has the largest number of pumpout boats available to our visitors and residents who enjoy our waterways.
"The boat captains are known for their professionalism and their dedication to this program," Little said. "They add another set of eyes to help boaters that may be in distress and they provide a service that protects our environment."
For the 2018 boating season, there are six pumpout boats operating in the Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor every weekend. The Circle of Life, which was the first pumpout boat in the state, is being used as a backup for the season. The service is also dependent on the weather and bad weather may cause the boats to cease operation for the day or delay the service.
The program is run in cooperation with several public and non-profit agencies.
The partners include Brick Township, the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Museum, Seaside Park, and the Ocean County Utilities Authority. The state Department of Environmental Protection also provides some funds to offset the operational costs. In addition, the boats, with the exception of the Circle of Life, were all purchased by Ocean County with the costs being reimbursed through the Clean Vessel Act Grant and the NJ Shore-to-Please license plate program. The Circle of Life was purchased by Seaside Park.
"With the ongoing cooperation of all these groups and agencies, this program has been recognized statewide and nationally for its outstanding performance in protecting the environment," Vicari said. "This also allows us to provide the service free of charge."
The operational costs for the boats are shared by Ocean County and the Ocean County Utilities Authority in the amount of $20,000 a boat. The budget covers the boat captains, fuel, maintenance, insurance and other incidental costs.
Vicari noted that boaters can also use fixed pumpout stations located at some marinas throughout coastal New Jersey.
Vicari said the pumpout boat program is essential for a county like Ocean County, which relies on tourism for its economic base.
"Boaters have embraced this free service and reach out to the captains on a regular basis for pumpouts," said Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who was a sponsor of the Shore-to-Please license plate program during her time in the state Assembly. "This is key to preventing waste water pollutants from entering our waterways."
The boats operate Memorial Day weekend through October each year, including major holidays like July 4 and Labor Day.
For more information on the pumpout boat program visit the Ocean County Planning Department's website at www.planning.co.ocean.nj.us/coastal.htm.