Boats and Marinas
Most of the Bay's small craft traffic is concentrated in Marina del Rey (the world's
largest man-made harbor) and Redondo Beach's King Harbor, which together have
approximately 7,500 berths and hundreds more dry-docks. Marinas, which generally have
placid waters, act as collecting basins for a variety of substances, such as raw and chemically
treated sewage, fish wastes, antifouling paint additives, oil and grease, wash water, urban
runoff and trash.
The contaminants of most concern from boats into the Santa Monica Bay include
antifouling bottom paints, which can contain copper and trace amounts of mercury, arsenic
and PCBs. In addition, paint primers may contain zinc, chromium and lead, and most
recently, tri-butyl tin (TBT). Although TBT can no longer be used on most recreational
boats, TBT from earlier applications may slough off or be scraped off boats and is found in
harbors and marina sediments. Other pollutants to this region resulting from boating
activities include oil and fuel emissions, accidental spills, coliform bacteria from boat sewage
discharges, solvents used during routine cleaning and solid waste such as trash and debris.
Recreational boaters and those who live aboard their vessels should follow the same
housekeeping practices as persons who live on land, including disposing of their trash, litter
and human waste in the proper places.
To view and/or download the SMBRP's Southern California Boater's Guide, click here.
Below is a list of Best Management Practices (BMPs), or
"common sense" measures that boaters can take to protect these priceless recreational
resources - marinas, harbors, rivers, lakes, bays and the ocean.
Used Oil Kills Marine Life! A single gallon of used oil can contaminate
over one million gallons of water. It is especially damaging in fertile shallow waters.
Practice Preventative Maintenance:
- Keep engines tuned and operating at peak efficiency.
- Use oil absorbent pads and containment pans or trays under the engine or in the bilge.
Wipe up any spills so oil isn't pumped overboard with the bilge water. Never pump oily
bilge water overboard! Oil absorbent pads can be reused many times before they require
disposal. Dispose pads as a hazardous waste at a recycling facility or at a hazardous waste
roundup (call 800/98-TOXIC for dates and
locations). Used oil and oil filters can be also be recycled at used oil collection facilities or
at local roundups and collection events.
- Do not mix any other fluids in with oil when recycling it. Used oil contaminated
with other materials cannot be readily recycled and disposal costs increase
FuelingKnow the fuel capacity prior to filling your boat's tank and do not
"top off." Keep absorbent materials handy to wipe up any
spills. You can purchase simple "gadgets" such as fuel surge protectors and fuel/air
separators to prevent fuel spills.
Accidental Spills Handle spills responsibly. Both oil and fuel spills should be
reported to the US Coast Guard National Response Center immediately at 800/OILS-911. If
you cause a spill, stop the source and start to clean it up immediately. Do not pour liquid
detergent onto the spill, as this makes the spill worse under the surface. In fact, it is against
the law to apply detergents or other chemicals to a spill to disperse or otherwise treat it.
Keep oil absorbent pads ready in your boat and throw onto the water surface to sop up the
Sewage DischargesNever discharge untreated sewage into the water. Use
pumpouts and shore-side facilities. For an overview of the laws, do's and don'ts and other
tips regarding boat sewage discharges,click here. You will
also find a complete list of pumpout and dump station locations in Southern California
(Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange Counties).
Boat Cleaning and Maintenance
- Scrub and rinse off your boat using water only. A quick rinse after each outing
reduces the need to scrub top-side with harsh cleaners. If you must use a cleaner, use only
small amounts of phosphate-free and biodegradable soaps. Consider also using home
remedies such as baking soda and vinegar as all purpose cleaners.
- Whenever possible, remove your boat from the water to wash it so that cleaners do
not pollute local waterways.
- When preparing to paint or varnish your boat, take precautions to minimize airborne
particulates from sanding or scraping. In the slip, drape tarps from the boat to the dock to
prevent particulates from entering the water. Turn the boat around in the slip to work on the
opposite side. Consider renting vacuum attachments for sanders. Vacuum or sweep up
scraped or sanded materials whenever possible.
Garbage and Recycling BE CAREFUL! Don't let trash or plastics get blown
overboard. It is illegal to dump plastic trash anywhere in the water! Keep them safely on
board until you reach the shore, where your trash can be disposed of properly. Check with
your marina for the closest recycling/disposal location. Remember, "If it goes aboard, it
comes on shore."
Hazardous Waste Do not dispose of the following in dumpsters or
leave on the dock:
Many of these can be recycled or taken to a local hazardous waste collection site or roundup
event. Do not discard these items into the sewer system or storm drains. Store chemicals,
solutions, paints, varnishes, oils, solvents, acids and batteries under cover in a manner so
they won't spill or leak into marine waters. Also, be sure to store incompatible materials in
separate containers. Nationwide, call 1-800-CLEAN UP for disposal site locations and other
information in your area.
- Fuel, used oil and filters, antifreeze, transmission fluid
- Paints, solvents and varnish
- Wet shop rags used to absorb hazardous waste
Good Environmental Practices Keep the Water Clean, and Clean Water Makes
Boating More Fun for Everyone.
For more information, check out these web sites! They provide the boating community with a
host of environmental, safety, legislative, weather and special interest information.
California Department of Boating and
California Harbor Masters Home
Western Boaters Safety Group