Boaters of all kinds enjoy the waters of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, a unique spot for year-round recreational and commercial boating. These boaters can, however, impact the quality of the Estuary waters they enjoy. In particular, untreated sewage discharged from boats can cause localized effects on water quality and public health, especially in semi-enclosed marinas and harbors where minimal water flushing occurs. Sewage from houseboats and other live-aboard vessels is a particular concern in parts of the Estuary, specifically Richardson Bay, Alviso Slough, Redwood Creek and the Delta.
Under a Clean Vessel Act grant from the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, the Estuary Partnership manages a dynamicand program aimed at encouraging boaters to use pumpout and dump stations rather than discharging directly into the Estuary.
Meet our team below and see!
Water Quality and Quantity
Champion the Estuary
Find the closest operational sewage pumpout station for your boat, learn how to use the pumpout to empty your holding tank, report non-functional units, and more when you download Pumpout Nav for free in your device’s app store!
SFEP and The Bay Foundation have been monitoring pumpouts throughout California for almost a decade and have used the most recent data to write this report.
This exciting project aims to overcome challenges faced when using pumpout stations by making it a simpler, cleaner, and hands-free experience. More information on how to get your kit coming soon!
For over 10 years we have regularly monitored the roughly 80 publicly accessible pumpouts in the Bay and Delta for their use and condition. We notify marinas of broken or malfunctioning units and work to make sure units have proper signage. This fruitful collaboration has maintained a highly functioning pumpout network, with roughly 90% of pumpout stations consistently operational.
New nozzle tips, ball valves and other small parts are given to marina operators with damaged equipment. This helps ensure that the boaters using the pumpout network are not deterred by collapsing nozzle tips that commonly impede flow.
NEW! SFEP partnered with The Bay Foundation’s Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Program to develop, a free Android and iOS App that allows CVA surveyors, marina managers and boaters to monitor pumpouts, helping maintain an operational network.
Sewage pumpout systems in the often rural California Delta are often septic system-based and differ from those in the more urban areas of Southern California or the San Francisco Bay Area, presenting unique challenges to boaters and marinas. The effectiveness of these systems can have broad impacts on this stunning ecosystem, potentially degrading water quality and increasing nutrients that help invasive species take hold.
Ensuring a strong, consistent network of functioning marinas that boaters can easily access is key to building good sewage disposal habits. To build the capacity of marinas to address issues of aging infrastructure and lack of resources, SFEP is engaging marina owners and staff in a series of meetings to discuss shared challenges and opportunities. Here are some of the resources we’ve found.