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Pumpout Program Protects Puget Sound from Raw Sewage

By MaryAnn Wagner, Washington Sea Grant

May 30, 2017 -- In 2016, Washington Sea Grant, Washington State Parks, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife worked together to divert a record 10 million gallons of raw sewage from Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and other state waterways. Sewage that otherwise would have been dumped into vulnerable waters.

Seattle skyline on Lake Washington. Image credit: NOAA.
In 2016, Washington Sea Grant’s pumout program diverted a record 10 million gallons of raw sewage from Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and other state waterway. Image credit: NOAA

Instead, the sewage was collected for safe onshore treatment, a result of training and outreach funded by U.S. Fish & Wildlife for the Pumpout Washington program, a branch of the Clean Vessel Act that provides outreach and education to boaters.

This summer, the Pumpout team hopes to expand services to waterways that are more remote. Based on needs identified in boater surveys, services will soon reach the San Juan Islands, particularly near Sucia Island.

Washington Sea Grant redesigned a spill-free pumpout adaptor kit to make it easier for boaters to use the pumpout facilities without making a mess. Throughout 2016, 1,000 free adaptor kits were distributed at 50 marinas and raised awareness of best practices among Washington boaters at boat shows, festivals, yacht clubs and through a partnership with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“In Washington State, awareness of the Clean Vessel Act program and pumpout services is way up. The reaction from boaters has been so successful that we are breaking all records,” said Al Wolslegel, Clean Vessel Program manager.

For more information about the program, including a Google map showing pumpout station locations in Washington State, visit

Man pumping out waste from boat. Image credit Washington Sea Grant.
Terry Durfee providing a free pumpout service to a boater on Lake Washington. Image credit: Washington Sea Grant

The Washington Clean Vessel Act program is part of the Clean Vessel Act of 1992 and in Washington it is managed by Washington State Parks and supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sportfish Restoration Fund from special taxes on recreational boats, fishing gear and boat fuel. The kits and training are made available to yacht clubs or other organizations that would like adaptor kits for members. Contact Aaron Barnett at 206-616-8929 or for more information. Lake Washington boaters may schedule pumpouts through, 206-437-6764.

MaryAnn Wagner is Assistant Director for Communications with Washington Sea Grant. Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, provides statewide marine research, outreach and education services. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) U.S. Department of Commerce. Visit for more information.

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:48pm PST