Understanding Your Ship’s Sewage System

Summer is arriving and soon the lake will begin to fill with ships and boat lovers. It’s no question that with any great boat, comes great responsibility. Whether you’re sailing a yacht, flagship, cruise ship or naval ship, there are regulations that need to be followed regarding sewage treatment. Each year, our team at Supeck Septic Services travels to vessels to properly haul and dispose septage and greywater (shower and sink water). Here’s what you need to know about your ship’s sewage system to keep it in tip top shape throughout the busy season ahead.

Importance of Sewage Management

Unsafe management and disposal of ship waste can lead to serious health consequences including, murky water, oxygen depletion, aquatic life die-off, spread of waterborne illness, algal blooms and more. To keep our bodies of water clean and healthy, ships need to retain or treat the liquid waste, sewage and greywater on board. There are three types of marine sanitation devices (MSDs) to help manage sewage: Type I, Type II and Type III.

  • Type I is an on-board treatment device using a physical/chemical based system that relies on maceration and chlorination. These are used for vessels up to 65 feet in length. After it has been sanitized, the treated waste can be discharged.
  • Type II is an on-board treatment device suitable for large commercial vessels. This MSD uses a biological based system that allows bacteria to break down the sewage. Like Type I, the water is treated with chlorine before the waste can be discharged. 
  • Type III are holding tanks that can be used by any vessel. These devices are designed to store liquid waste and sewage while preventing overboard discharge. When it’s time to release the waste, you’ll need to contact a professional like our members at Supeck Septic to help. Make sure you know where your closest pumpout stations are located, height or draft restrictions, seasonal closures and hours of operation.

Rules and Regulations

To ensure ships are maintaining their sewage systems, there are rules and regulations that can result in fines if they are disregarded. These regulations include:

  • Section 312 of the Clean Water Act requires the use of operable, U.S. Coast Guard-certified marine sanitation devices (MSDs) onboard vessels that are equipped with installed toilets and operating on U.S. navigable waters.
  • Untreated sewage discharges are prohibited within three miles from shore.
  • In order to discharge within three miles, sewage must be treated using a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I or Type II MSD. Alternatively, sewage may be stored onboard in a holding tank (Type III MSD).
  • Treated and untreated sewage discharges are prohibited in freshwater lakes, reservoirs and other freshwater impoundments.

Our Service Areas

Here are some of the vessels we have serviced recently:

  • EPA Lake Guardian
  • US Coast Guard
  • USS Minneapolis
  • USS Billings
  • USS Indianapolis (LCS 17)
  • USS St. Louis
  • Flagship Niagara
  • Port of Cleveland
  • Many privately owned vessels

Contact Supeck Septic Services to Maintain Your Vessel

With boating season arriving, it’s important that your sewage system is prepared and well maintained. Our team at Supeck Septic Services is licensed, bonded, and insured to provide you the highest level of customer care. To learn more about our services in septage and greywater pumpouts and disposals, give us a call at (888) 725-0209.