About the Study Guide

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Vessel Impact

While the effect of a single vessel on our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters may seem insignificant, multiply that impact by the millions of vessels on the waterways today. To preserve and protect the waters, wildlife, and aquatic vegetation enjoyed while boating, each person must be responsible.

Keep Waterways Clean

Keep waterways clean and disease-free by disposing of waste properly.

  • If your vessel is equipped with an installed toilet, make sure no sewage is discharged into the water. Empty the holding tanks only into pump-out stations.
  • Don't throw any litter overboard. Bring all trash back on shore to dispose of properly. Be sure to retrieve anything that blows overboard.
  • Fishing lines and plastics are deadly for fish and fowl and should never be discarded in the water or near shore.
  • Plastic six-pack holders can trap or strangle birds, fish, and other wildlife. Always properly dispose of these on land by snipping each circle of the holders with scissors.
  • Remember, if you have room to take it, you have room to bring it back!
Protect the Shoreline

Protect the shoreline from erosion, and preserve aquatic vegetation.

  • Reduce throttle to "no wake" speed when close to a shoreline or in small rivers to help prevent erosion.
  • Don't operate in shallow water where your prop or pump intake can stir up bottom sediments and destroy aquatic plants.
  • Drain the bilge and clean the prop before leaving a waterway. Failure to do so may transport plants or animals from one waterway to another and disrupt the natural balance of the environment.
Toxic Substances and the Water

Avoid using toxic substances on your vessel or around the water.

  • Reduce the amount of detergent you use when cleaning your vessel. Use non-phosphate products, such as hydrogen peroxide, on your vessel. Don't use toxic cleaners.
  • Don't use toxic paints or other toxic products on your vessel. If you must use chemical products on your vessel, minimize their use while on the water.
  • Before the first use of your vessel in the spring, drain the antifreeze into a container and properly dispose of it on shore. Never use antifreeze containing ethylene glycol.
  • When fueling, don't top off the tank. Promptly mop up any fuel spills.
Pump-out Stations
Pump-out station
Empty your holding tanks only into pump-out stations.