With summer here, crews from the Soundkeeper have begun pumping out waste from boats.
If you own a boat in one of the Westchester harbors on Long Island Sound, you can call in the organization to empty your tank for free. And you don’t even have to be there when they do it.
The Norwalk, Conn.-based environmental organization starts its “Clean Water and Education Program” over the Memorial Day weekend. Through the organization’s website, you can sign up to have a boat with a Sounderkeeper worker come by to empty the tank.
Terry Backer, who heads the organization and carries the title of Soundkeeper, sometimes hears from people who say he’s merely offering a free service to “rich boaters,” he said. He tells them two things. First, most boaters they deal with are not rich, but are middle-class people who keep a 20- or 24-foot vessel, often for fishing. Second, it’s not only the boaters who benefit, it’s the sound itself and everyone who swims or fishes in it.
The service, Backer said, operates “to provide a place to get rid of sewage so its not in our water so its not on the beaches were the kids are swimming.”
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Soundkeeper crews pumped 1,500 gallons of waste out of 72 tanks, the organization reports.
Of course, it’s a little unpleasant to think about what’s being pumped out, but Soundkeeper’s website offers some information to show just how bad it is.
The waste is loaded with fecal coliform bacteria, a standard signal that disease causing organisms are swimming in marine or fresh water. Citing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, the Soundkeeper says, “dumping a single 20-gallon waste holding tank has the same impact as discharging several thousand gallons of sewage from an efficiently run sewage treatment plant.”
The amount of sewage in the water coming from the treatment plant may be greater than the amount in the 20 gallons of boat waste, Soundkeeper says, but the “concentrated pulse of waste from a number of boats at one location can cause significant concentrations of fecal matter in a poorly flushed inlet or harbor.”
For “poorly flushed” inlets, think of Mamaroneck Harbor or the New Rochelle City Marina, as just a couple of examples.
To sign up for the, visit the site at www.soundkeeper.org, and click on the box that says “Online Pumpout Request” under Backer’s photo.