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It is illegal to discharge any treated or untreated sewage into the waters of Rhode Island. All waters of Rhode Island have been declared “No Discharge Zones.”

If you have a recreational vessel with installed toilet facilities, it must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board and be sealed to prevent discharge into the water.

There are three types of MSDs.

  • Types I and II MSDs are usually found on large vessels. Waste is treated with special chemicals to kill bacteria before the waste is discharged. Types I and II MSDs with Y valves that would direct the waste overboard must be secured so that the valve cannot be opened. This can be done by placing a lock or non-reusable seal on the Y valve or by taking the handle off the Y valve.
  • Type III MSDs provide no treatment and are either holding tanks or portable toilets. Collected waste should be taken ashore and disposed of in a pump-out station or onshore toilet.

Vessels 65 feet or less in length may use a Type I, II, or III MSD. Vessels more than 65 feet in length must install a Type II or III MSD.

All installed devices must be USCG–certified.

It is illegal for a vessel with a permanently installed marine toilet to operate or moor for more than 30 days on state waters unless such vessel prominently displays a valid “no discharge certification” decal.

  • There are two possible decals. One decal indicates that the boat owner or operator has taken the steps necessary to prevent the discharge of sewage into state waters. The other decal shows that the boat has no marine toilet or no through-hull fitting that would allow sewage to be discharged overboard.
  • The decal is valid for four years and may be obtained from any certification agent upon inspection and testing of toilets, MSDs, and related plumbing on the boat.
  • Vessels carrying a valid USCG certificate of inspection are exempt.
  • Failure to display a decal may result in a fine of up to $100.
  • For a list of authorized MSD certification agents, visit the DEM website.
Marine Sanitation Device diagram

Pump-Out Station Sign

Pump-Out Station sign

Signs like these are posted at pump-out stations in Rhode Island.