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Course Outline

Pump-out sign
Signs like this one are posted at pump-out stations.

It is illegal in Texas to discharge sewage and recreational waste into or adjacent to any Texas waters. All boats, including houseboats and floating cabins, equipped with a galley or toilet must have a wastewater holding system to prevent the discharge of waste products into surrounding waters.

If you have a recreational vessel with installed toilet facilities, it must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board.

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.

Clean Water Certification Program

According to Texas law, the Clean Water Certification Program requires owners of boats with MSDs and owners of pump-out stations to obtain a decal by completing a certification application. The application and decal self-certify that the MSD or pump-out station is operating properly to prevent the discharge of sewage into Texas waterways.

  • To get an MSD or boat pump-out station certification application online, visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website.
  • Initial application fees for certification and the decal are $15 (MSD) and $35 (boat pump-out station).
  • Certifications expire on December 31 of every odd-numbered calendar year.
MSD at pump-out station
Typical MSD
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