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

On all Ohio waters except on Lake Erie, the Muskingum River, and the Ohio River:

  • No person shall launch, moor, dock, operate, or permit to be operated any vessel with a sink, toilet, or sanitary system capable of discharging urine, fecal matter, contents of a chemical commode, kitchen wastes, laundry wastes, slop sink drainage, or other household wastes into the waters in this state.
  • Such a sink, toilet, or sanitary system shall be removed, sealed, or made to drain into a tank or reservoir that can be carried or pumped ashore for disposal in an approved sewage treatment works.

On Lake Erie, the Muskingum River, and the Ohio River, all recreational vessels with installed toilet facilities must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board.

Pump-out station
Typical Marine Sanitation Device

There are three types of MSDs.

  • Types I and II MSDs are usually found on large boats. Waste is treated with special chemicals to kill bacteria before the waste is discharged.
  • The Type III MSD, the simplest and most common, consists of holding tanks or portable toilets. Waste is to be discharged on shore into a pump-out station.

Federal regulations specify the type of MSD allowed.

  • Vessels 65 feet and under may use a USCG–certified Type I, II, or III MSD.
  • Vessels over 65 feet must install a USCG–certified Type II or III MSD.

U.S. Coast Guard–certified devices are so labeled except for some holding tanks, which are certified by definition under federal regulations.