About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Georgia Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Georgia Boater Education Certificate.

Learn More Register for the Course

Pumpout Station sign
Signs like these are posted at pump-out stations in Georgia.

Georgia law states that it is unlawful to place, leave, or discharge waste or waste containers into Georgia waters.

Pump-out station
Typical Marine Sanitation Device

All vessels, including houseboats and floating cabins, that are equipped with a marine toilet must have a wastewater holding system to prevent the discharge of waste products into surrounding waters.

A marine toilet is considered to be any equipment installed on board a vessel that is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage and any process to treat such sewage. A portable toilet is not considered to be a marine toilet..

It is illegal for a vessel to pump out sewage from a wastewater holding system, a portable toilet, or a marine sanitation device (MSD) into surrounding waters except into an approved pump-out facility or into a sewer system located on dry land.

All vessels equipped with a marine toilet must be registered with the Georgia DNR. You will be issued a Marine Toilet Certificate decal that must be affixed to the hull adjacent to the vessel’s registration number.

Vessels equipped with a marine toilet must follow these regulations.

  • If operated on Lakes Allatoona, Blackshear, Blue Ridge, Clarks Hill, Hartwell, Russell, Seminole, Sidney Lanier, Sinclair, Walter F. George Reservoir, or West Point, the vessel’s marine toilet must be equipped with a holding tank that is built so that it can be emptied only by being pumped out. The Y valve must be removed to prevent discharge.
  • If built before January 1, 1978, the vessel may be equipped with a fully operable USCG–certified MSD if the MSD is part of the vessel’s original equipment. Note: Sewage from the wastewater holding system or MSD must conform to the current guidelines for disposal.
  • Sewage from the wastewater holding system or MSD must conform to the current guidelines for disposal.

You must maintain a record, going back at least one year, of the name and location of the pump-out facilities you use to empty your holding system and the dates of such use.

Video: Georgia Waste Disposal

Press the play button (▶) above to start the video. Trouble with this video?

Video Transcript
Rob

OK, I don’t know quite how to bring this topic up, but a lot of boats have waste disposal devices, maybe the bigger ones.

Ranger Kate Hargrove

Yes.

Rob

What do people need to know about waste disposal?

Ranger Hargrove

Well, you need to know that all vessels equipped with a marine toilet or portable sanitation device need to be pumped out at a pump-out station and not on the water.

Rob

And why should people not just put it out into the water, for instance?

Ranger Hargrove

Because waste disposal, sewer, it can cause public health hazards as well as litter, and animals, birds, marine mammals can be injured by this form of litter.

Rob

If you have a toilet or something where you’re collecting waste, you have to go to a pump station to get it cleaned. Are there any particulars about that, that people should know about?

Ranger Hargrove

All vessels equipped with a marine toilet or portable sanitation device must have a wastewater holding facility on board. A marine toilet is any device that is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage. A portable toilet is not considered a marine toilet. All vessels with a marine toilet should be issued a certificate from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This certificate should be affixed to the hull adjacent to the registration number. Each vessel should maintain a record of pump-outs for at least one year. All trash should be stored in a container on board the vessel and disposed of properly when returned to shore.