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

If you have a recreational vessel with installed toilet facilities, it must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board. An MSD is a separate mechanism attached to the marine toilet. The macerator inside the toilet and the reservoir beside the toilet are not marine sanitation devices.

Pump-out station
Typical Marine Sanitation Device

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 when on “no discharge” waters. 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.

It is illegal to discharge raw (untreated) sewage into any public waters.

Public waters are classified as either “discharge” (capable of accepting treated sewage) or “no discharge” (waste must be retained in a holding tank and properly discharged on shore).

  • Discharge into public waters is restricted to Type I or II MSDs and only on those waters classified as “discharge.” Discharge reservoirs are: Barkley, Caulderwood, Cheatham, Chickamauga, Cordell Hull, Cumberland River, Ft. Loudon, Kentucky, McKellar, Melton Hill, Mississippi River, Nickajack, Old Hickory, Pickwick, Reelfoot, South Holston, Tellico, Tennessee River, and Watts Bar.
  • No-discharge reservoirs are: Beech River Lakes; Boone; Center Hill; Cherokee; Chilhowee; Dale Hollow; Douglas; Ft. Patrick Henry; Great Falls; J. Percy Priest; Lake Graham; Nolichucky; Normandy; Norris; Ocoee 1, 2, and 3; Tims Ford; Watauga; Wilbur; and Woods.

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 MSDs must be USCG–certified.

Marinas and docks operating on public waters must provide a sewage removal service.