Florida Sea Grant, the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently announced that Pumpout Nav is available to Florida boaters.
Boaters now have access to an interactive tool to locate more than 250 publicly available pumpouts, portable toilet dump stations and mobile pumpout vessels throughout the state.
Pumpout Nav, a free iOS and Android app, uses a boater’s location information to suggest the nearest public pumpout station on a map or list. Pumpout Nav helps boaters find the amenities they need and helps marinas promote their services.
Florida Sea Grant began populating the Pumpout Nav app with Florida-specific information after receiving a contract from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Vessel Act Grant Program.
Functional pumpout stations are critical for boaters to properly dispose of boat waste and protect water quality.
“The DEP Clean Vessel Act program recognized the importance of providing the Pumpout Nav app to boaters in Florida so that these services can be easily located throughout the waters of the state,” said Michael Shirley, deputy director in the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. “The Florida Sea Grant program was a logical partner to approach with this plan and opportunity. The amount of effort put into this project is outstanding.”
Although properly functioning Marine Sanitation Devices (type I and II) eliminate most pathogens in sewage, they cannot treat nutrients. Excess nutrients can degrade water quality and contribute to harmful algal blooms. Functional pumpout stations also help boaters comply with discharge regulations, like the No Discharge Zone (NDZ) in the state waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The app now catalogs more than 250 pumpout stations, along the coast and in some inland waterways and provides each facility’s cost, hours and detailed location within the marina. Users can also find instructions on how to use a pumpout station, how to operate a boat’s Y-valve, information on marine composting toilets and more.
“Boat sewage is much more concentrated than municipal sewage, with anywhere from 20 to 40 times as many nutrients,” said Victoria Gambale, Florida Sea Grant’s Clean Vessel Act education coordinator.
“We just reached over a million registered vessels here in Florida, and that doesn’t include all the vessels that come to visit,” Gambale said. “This could have a huge impact on water quality. Most boaters care about the water they recreate in and properly dispose of their waste. But some still think, ‘I’m just one boater,’ but you’re one of a million, and boating is often concentrated along certain coastal areas. Even if your boat has a Marine Sanitation Device, it’s still great to use a pumpout because that waste gets sent to a municipal treatment plant where it’s treated to a higher standard.”
Boaters can create a personalized account in the app to log their pumpout activity, save their favorite pumpout locations, and plan their next pumpout stop. Boaters are also encouraged to use the app to report any issues they encounter with a pumpout unit, helping marinas stay on top of repairs.
“One of my favorite app features is the boater’s ability to report a problem with a pumpout,” Gambale said. “It can be frustrating to go through the effort of moving your boat, only to find out the pumpout unit is broken. The app tries to eliminate that by letting all users know when a problem is reported.”
In addition, Florida Sea Grant is still seeking public pumpout locations the app may be missing. To report one, complete this survey, or connect to Florida Sea Grant via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
The expansion of Pumpout Nav to Florida was paid for by the Florida DEP Clean Vessel Act Grant Program. The program receives federal grants from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, with funding from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by excise taxes paid for fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, import duties, and interest on the fund.