MARINE SEWAGE REGULATIONS

Any sewage treatment system located in a lake or ocean which is not connected to a land based sewage system is regulated under the Canadian shipping act of 2001. That act provides for separate regulations for pleasure and commercial crafts. Administration of the regulations is provided through local port authorities or federal government offices in major cities. There are general provisions restricting the discharge of toxic waste, which aim mostly at oil spills, but include discharge of untreated sewage. There are no specific guidelines as to the quantity and quality of waste that would be considered toxic. However the appropriate authorities do have the right to prevent discharge (except in cases of accidents threatening a floating vehicle or its occupants). Where there is a spill the government can bring a law suit against the boat owner, but must prove negligence.

In the case of pleasure crafts, the shipping act provides regulations for a water tight holding tank (in effect an onboard septic system) where a boat has a toilet. Although not specifically stated, the presumption is that the effluent be pumped ashore for land based disposal. In some places the local port authority has barges to which waste water can be pumped. Part of the reason there are no specific effluent standards for sewage waste is the lack of either monitoring or offloading at most Canadian ports. Many moorage facilities with houseboats or pleasure crafts have problems with high coliform count in the water, so there is clearly a lot of illegal dumping.

There is a strong move to tighten regulations for waste water treatment, with a new act due to come into effect in 2006. In anticipation of that owners of house boats in Vancouver and other major ports are now being ask to comply with the intended new standards. Those standards will likely be 50 mg/l for Total Solids, 50 mg/l for CBOD5 and 400 CFU/100 ml for coliform count. In addition there will be a restriction on chlorine disposal.

The Go Green system will easily meet the new standards, and has already been approved for a fisheries and oceans camp, several house boats, and marine toilet facilities for a BC harbour authority. We are actively seeking to have our marine systems government certified, although at present there is no provision in law for certification. In the US the coast guard can certify marine water treatment systems.

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