Boat Grey Water on Kootenay Lake
Our lake gives us drinking water, recreation, and is a crucial part of our economy. As boaters, we can support the lake by reducing the impacts of grey water – the waste water from on-board sinks, showers, or washers and from boat maintenance activity.
What’s the problem with dumping grey water from boats? Greywater contains bacteria, viruses and chemicals that can pose a threat to human health and the lakes. These materials wash off our bodies, food and clothing and are contained in the cleaning and cosmetic products we use. Although it may seem harmless, with contaminants like phosphate, chlorine, salts, metals, and endocrine disruptors, this soapy water can pollute ecosystems. Because many boats are not equipped with holding tanks, greywater flows untreated from sinks and showers into our local watershed.
What can boaters do to reduce grey water impacts?
- Be aware — know your plumbing and how wastes are stored or discharged. If you have grey water tanks, use available pump-out facilities to dispose of waste rather than dump to the lake.
- Seal off, remove or otherwise prevent the use of heads, galleys, sinks, showers, etc.
- where holding tanks are not possible, or where pump-out facilities are not available.
- Many boats can be retrofitted to include a grey water holding tank or to route grey water to the toilet waste holding tank.
- Use shore-side facilities -for shorter day trips, bring your dirty dishes home to wash; take showers on land.
- Save your laundry to do after the holidays.
- Use onboard facilities with care. Shower and wash dishes when well away from the shoreline and bays, avoiding residences, beaches and areas where people could be using the water to drink, swim, wakeboard, etc. Use phosphate-free & non-toxic soaps.
- Check product labels and avoid cleaners that advise “do not get in eyes” or “always wear gloves;” these products are more likely to harm you and the environment.
- Use alternative cleaners. Baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar can perform as well as commercial products without harmful by-products.
- A little cleaner can go a long way, especially when combined with a bit of elbow grease. Wash decks and hulls frequently with fresh water to avoid the use of harsh, corrosive cleaners.