Quartermaster Marina gets a new boat pumpout


The Quartermaster Marina recently installed a new pumpout, something the marina owner and officials hope will encourage boaters to pump their vessels rather than dump in the harbor.

King County also plans to install a new pumpout at Dockton Park by this summer. Both projects are funded through a state grant.

“We see a lot of people just dumping their porta potty out in Quartermaster Harbor, and we have no control over it,” said Steven Choe, a Tacoma resident who owns the Quartermaster Marina. “They just dump as they like.”

The marina recently applied for and received a $53,000 grant from the Washington State Parks Clean Vessel Program that funded the purchase and installation of the pumpout. The marina didn’t have a pumpout before, but was required to install one under its recently renegotiated aquatic lease with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Choe said he was happy to install the pumpout, which under the grant terms will be free to use and open to the public, not only boats moored at the marina. He said that previously the closest working pumpout was at Point Defiance, and that pumpout sometimes has a line during the busy summer months. The Quartermaster Yacht Club has a pumpout for use by members only.

“This is a really good thing for the public,” he said.

Fecal contamination has been one contributor to the poor health of Quartermaster Harbor. In recent years the state has closed shellfish beds in the harbor due to contamination, largely from failing septic systems. But Choe and others say boaters also sometimes dump their waste in the bay as well.

Lisa Randlette, an environmental planner with DNR’s Aquatic Resources Division, which has led a recent effort to clean up the harbor, said she wasn’t sure how often boats dump in the harbor but “any time you have a boat moored in an area long enough you have that risk,” she said. “Because it’s a closed embayment, we really want to make sure that the facilities are operational and are used by people.”

The grant was funded largely by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but was secured by the state Department of Ecology, according to Al Wolslaegel, the manager of the Clean Vessel Program. The EPA covered 75 percent of the cost of the new pumpout and its installation, and the state Department of Health put up matching funds for the other 25 percent.

Dockton Park will also install a new pumpout through the Clean Vessel Program. The county-owned park’s aging pumpout isn’t used much, as it hasn’t worked well for some time, requires park staff to operate and is not used during the winter.

The county is currently seeking funding to refurbish the entire dock at Dockton Park, something that would likely happen next year, according to Doug Williams, a spokesman for the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks. The new pumpout is slated to be installed by this summer.

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