Mobile pumpout boats improve water quality in Puget Sound and provide options for recreational boaters. That’s great news as we head into boating season 2024!

Looking ahead to Opening Day weekend in Seattle and the fabulous high season of on-the-water activity around the region that lies just beyond, the systems to help boaters spend more time having fun and less time seeking out pumpout stations are expanding. Here’s a press release from one of the entities making that happen, Washington Sea Grant

Options for recreational boaters to pump out boat sewage safely and efficiently are expanding throughout Puget Sound as the number of traveling “pumpout boats” grows.

When combined with stationary pumpout units at marinas, these grant-funded mobile pumpout boats keep an estimated 8-10 million gallons of sewage out of Puget Sound annually, protecting shellfish beds and improving overall water quality. Recreational boating has steadily increased in popularity around Puget Sound since the pandemic. That’s one reason Washington State Parks’ Clean Vessel Act program (CVA) is making it a priority to help fund and coordinate with ports and marinas as they add more mobile pumpout boats to meet the growing need for vessel sewage disposal options.

The CVA program funds infrastructure and educates boaters on the importance of safe and legal sewage disposal through Pumpout Washington, an educational outreach program run by Washington Sea Grant with funding from the Washington State Parks CVA program. Pumpout Washington improves stewardship practices that protect the quality of local waterways.

Boaters have a strong interest in using mobile pumpout boats because the boats come to them, making it easy to do the right thing – pump out their sewage rather than dump it overboard.  “Every boater has at one time or another been frustrated by the need to pump out but may not have been near a pumpout station. This type of service is especially helpful in those beautiful and remote areas with high boating activity that may not be near a marina with a pumpout station, like parts of the South Sound or the San Juan Islands,” says Rob Sendak, who serves as the State’s Boating Law Administrator and oversees the CVA program.

Area ports and marinas are equally motivated to provide pumpout services. Puget Sound’s Kitsap and Pierce Counties recently expanded services on Blake Island, Liberty Bay, Eagle Harbor, Illahee State Park, Fort Ward and Port Madison. Port Townsend also has a mobile pumpout based at Boat Haven Marina.

Port Ludlow maintains a wood and fully electric pumpout boat through a partnership with the Northwest School for Wooden Boat Building.  The school’s executive director, Betsy Davis, sees the arrangement as a win-win. “We really appreciate the learning opportunities that this project is providing to our students,“ she says.

To make it easier for boaters to find a nearby mobile pumpout boat, Washington State Parks partnered with Washington Sea Grant to develop the Pumpout Boat Tracker, a GIS map that locates mobile boats in real time. The tool, which was first piloted last year and is now in phase 2 of development, will reach boaters in Pierce and Kitsap Counties and parts of Mason County.

Pumpout Washington keeps boaters informed of updates on pumpout locations, instructs boaters to effectively pump out and provides free tools for

Paul Weyn performs a pumpout for a recreational boater as part of the South Sound Mobile Pumpout Program. 2022. Image courtesy of Pierce County.

efficient pumping. But the program isn’t the only resource available to boaters. The Washington Department of Ecology’s “Pump Out Don’t Dump Out” campaign educates boaters on how to use the “Y-valve,” a device required by law on boats with installed toilets that diverts waste to a holding tank. This training makes it easier for boaters to comply with the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone (NDZ) ruling. Justine Asohmbom, an education coordinator at the Department of Ecology adds, “We’re thrilled that boaters are beginning to implement use of the Y-valve. Their efforts support the NDZ program and ultimately improve water quality for boaters and wildlife.” The NDZ ruling now applies to all boats in Puget Sound and certain adjoining waters where boaters may not release treated or untreated sewage from Type I and Type II marine sanitation devices (MSDs).

Washington Sea Grant and Washington State Parks’ CVA grant program also promote Pumpout Nav, a free phone app and convenient tool helping boaters to keep their holding tanks empty and Washington’s waters healthy. The app allows boaters to find one of nearly 200 pumpout and dump stations in Washington as well as hundreds of pumpouts in California and Oregon, and is available for both iOS and Android devices. Also among the tools offered to boaters is the free pumpout adapter, an easy screw-in nozzle that keeps sewage from spilling over.

As the boating season gets underway, not only sewage spills, but also smaller oil spills from recreational boaters are a big contributor to water pollution. Up to 25 percent of oil spills are known to come from smaller vessels. The Washington Sea Grant Small Spills Prevention Program provides boaters with the knowledge and tools they need to report oil spills and stop oil pollution at the source, including a free Small Oil Spills Prevention fuel bib, an absorbent pad that fits snuggly on the fuel nozzle of a boat. The Small Spills Prevention Program is managed by Washington Sea Grant and Washington Department of Ecology.

Find a full list of mobile pumpout boats and pumpout stations on the Pumpout Washington website: For free boater pumpout materials contact Washington Sea Grant’s boating specialists Aaron Barnett at, 206.616.8929 or Bridget Trosin at, or contact Ashley Seydel with Washington State Parks at