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It is illegal in Texas to discharge sewage and recreational waste into or adjacent to any Texas waters.

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

All boats, including houseboats and floating cabins, equipped with a galley or toilet must have a waste-water 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.

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. 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.

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, go to www.tceq.texas.gov/field/cleanwatercert.
  • 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-calendar year.