4.0 – Marinas and Recreational Boating

Pollutants from marinas and recreational boating are more likely to adversely affect water quality because marinas are located at the water’s edge, i.e. polluted runoff originating from marinas and recreational boating activities are not buffered by natural processes prior to discharge into receiving waters. Management measures are designed to protect receiving waters from polluted runoff and pertain to:

  • any facility that contains 10 or more slips, piers where 10 or more boats may tie up, or any facility where a boat for hire is docked;
  • any residential or planned community marina with 10 or more slips;
  • any mooring field where 10 or more boats are moored;
  • public or commercial boat ramps; and
  • boat maintenance or repair yards that are adjacent to the water, and any federal, State, or local facility that involves recreational boat maintenance or repair on or adjacent to the water.

A marina that is classified as a SIC 4493 is required to obtain an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit if vehicle maintenance activities such as rehabilitation, mechanical repairs, painting, fueling, and lubrication or equipment cleaning operations are conducted at the marina. The NPDES storm water permit will apply only to the point source discharges of storm water from the maintenance areas at the permitted marina (USEPA 1993).

Management measures in the marina siting and design category are intended to be used by marina owners and operators when marinas (mooring fields, boat maintenance yards, boat ramps, boats slips, and docks) are in the planning phase of development, some of these management measures and associated management practices account for site considerations such as salinity and flushing. The marina operations section contains management measures designed for marina operators and harbormasters as well as boaters.

The following fact sheets provide information on management measures that can be used to reduce NPS pollution from marinas and recreational boating activities. The guidance is intended to provide technical assistance to state program managers and others on the best practicable means of reducing NPS pollution of surface waters from marinas and recreational boating.

The guidance can assist marina managers and boaters in identifying possible sources of NPS pollution and it offers potential solutions. Finding a solution to NPS pollution problems at a marina requires taking into account the site-specific factors that together compose the setting of a marina. The management practices presented in the following fact sheets are recommended based on their successful application at many marinas. Their applicability to any particular marina or situation, however, must be determined based on site-specific factors. The applicability of the individual management practices and combinations of management practices should be considered within the overall context of the location, environment, design, and needs of the marina. Marina managers should make informed decisions, based on the circumstances at their particular marina, as to whether the management practices in this guidance or others would be most effective for controlling NPS pollution.

Several minor reorganization changes were made to the 2006 edition of the Marinas and Recreational Boating land-use category, management measure (MM) 4.2 - Operation and Maintenance and two new, draft MM were added. The following describes the specific changes that were made. All hazardous material management practices were removed from former MM 4.2A Solid Waste Control and former MM 4.2B Liquid Waste Control and included in MM 4.2I Hazardous Material Management and Emergency Response Plans. Former MM 4.2A Solid Waste Control and former MM 4.2B Fish Waste Control were consolidated and renamed to MM 4.2A Solid (Including Fish) Waste Control in order to maintain a consistent theme and to reduce some repetition. Grey water management practices were added to former 4.2C, Liquid Material Control and this MM was renamed to 4.2B Liquid Waste (Including Gray Water) Management. Former MM 4.2D, Petroleum Control was renamed to MM 4.2C, Fuel and Used Oil Control. Former MM 4.2E Boat Cleaning and Maintenance was renamed to MM 4.2D Topside Boat Cleaning and Maintenance and a new MM (4.2E) was created to address underwater boat hull cleaning and maintenance. MM 4.2F Sewage Pump-out Facilities and Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) was renamed to reflect additional information included on the proper use of MSDs. A new, draft MM (4.2H) was created to address aquatic invasive species control. Former MM 4.3 Education and Outreach was separated into two separate sections: MM 4.3A and MM 4.3B which are designed to guide marina owners and operators to provide education and outreach to the general public and boat slip owners.

Use the links below to find more information for each of the following management measures

General Programs and Agencies

  • Baykeeper works to reverse the environmental degradation of the past and promote new strategies and policies to protect the water quality of the San Francisco Bay. For nearly two decades, Baykeeper and its Stockton-based chapter Deltakeeper have been the premiere watchdog of the water quality of the vast San Francisco Bay-Delta watershed.
  • California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) provides information to boaters on boating safety, boating law, boating guides, boating-related pollution and pollution prevention, marine sanitation device (MSD) laws, and many other topics of interest to the boating public.
  • Heal The Bay provides Santa Monica Bay’s environmental events calendar, citizen involvement, and beach report.
  • Port of San Diego is dedicated to protecting the San Diego Bay and Port Tidelands. We believe San Diego Bay is for everyone to enjoy and protect. This site provides regional programs and resources for the San Diego Area.
  • San Diego CoastKeeper works to detect and report illicit discharges and pollution from boating activities.
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission provides information related to the health of San Francisco Bay, including on marinas, permitting for dredge and fill activities, oil spill response, and protection of local wetlands.
  • Santa Monica Baykeeper's mission is to protect and restore the Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action.
  • Save Our Shores Sanctuary Steward Certification Program is a training program for presenting beach cleanup and sanctuary slide programs on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Sea Partners has information on marine environmental protection laws, links related to marine debris, small spills, clean boating practices, and educational resources.
  • USEPA, Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds, Nonpoint Source Branch documents on clean boating, clean marinas, and engine maintenance.

General Funding Resources


USEPA. 1993. Guidance Specifying Management Measures for Sources of Nonpoint Pollution in Coastal Waters. EPA 840-B-92-002. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington, DC., February 22, 2008.

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