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Sewage pump-out program reaches 1 million gallons

Florida Keys News
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

KEY LARGO — The Monroe County Commission recognized Pumpout USA for an environmental milestone. This month the mobile vessel pump-out service collected its 1 millionth gallon of sewage under the county’s free service for boats anchored in Florida Keys waters.

It would take a pool 267 feet long (nearly the length of a football field), 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep to hold 1 million gallons, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The milestone occurred on Dec. 8, when Pumpout USA removed the human waste from a 49-foot schooner named S/V Bliss that is owned by Rhon Opiela and anchored off Fleming Key in Key West Harbor.

The program, funded by the state and county, has been free to boaters from Key Largo to Key West since its inception in January 2013. Pumpout USA properly disposes of the sewage at marina facilities throughout the county.

At the Dec. 14 commission meeting in Key Largo, Rich Jones, senior administrator of Monroe County’s Marine Resources Office, presented Pumpout USA president Donnie Brown with a “golden toilet” paper weight that reads: “No. 1 in the business of No. 2.” Jones also presented him with a plaque.

Over the past four years, Pumpout USA has steadily increased its registered customer base to 2,182. Pumpout USA now has seven boats that operate throughout the island chain. Six can hold 350 gallons of sewage and a smaller one launched from boat ramps holds 200 gallons, said John Andzelik, supervising captain of Pumpout USA.

Before the contracted service began in 2013, the county operated one pump-out vessel in Key Largo, and the Lower Keys had a couple of privately operated sewage pump-out boats that operated sporadically and in limited locations, charging up to $25 per pump out.

In 2013, the county partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to start the Keys-wide pump out program. The county provided start-up funds of $98,000 for the first quarter of the service. The DEP provided funding through its Clean Vessel Act Program. In September 2014, the county commission approved an extension of the program through 2016.

In July, with the state providing $500,000 to operate the program for one more year, the county again approved an extension of the program and approved keeping it free to boaters. Pump-outs now run about 1,600 to 2,000 per month in the program.

The state’s contribution pays for 92 percent of the program for a one-year period that began July 1. The other funding for the pump-out service, which costs $729,800 for the year, comes from a CVA grant of $172,350 and the county’s match of that grant of $57,000, which comes from boater improvement funds generated from boat registration fees.

Boaters can call 305-900-0263 to schedule a pump-out, or they can register online for routine pump-pout service at po-keys.com.

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Officials get more leeway on derelict vessels

Bill will help keep boats afloat

Florida Keys News
Saturday, March 26, 2016
BY TIMOTHY O'HARA Citizen Staff
tohara@keysnews.com

Monroe County fared well in the state legislative session this year when it comes to protecting water quality and cleaning up derelict vessels.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Thursday giving local marine officers more latitude in dealing with derelict vessels before they sink.

Derelict vessels have been a major problem off the Florida Keys, and Monroe County government has spent more than $270,000 a year in recent years to remove them. The money comes from locally generated vessel registration fees, which could be used for issues that benefit boaters more, such as channel markers and boat ramps.

The expense of salvaging such vessels grows exponentially once they are abandoned and sink, which is the case most of the time in Monroe County. Rarely does the county recoup the salvage costs for derelict vessels, county and FWC officials said.

HB 7025, sponsored by Florida Keys State House Rep. Holly Raschein, prohibits vessels that are at risk of becoming derelict from anchoring on, mooring on, or occupying state waters and authorizes Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers or specified local law enforcement officers to determine what vessels are at risk of becoming derelict and ordering them removed or fixed.

“I anticipate that the new at-risk regulations will help the county by addressing those vessels which meet the at-risk criteria before they deteriorate to derelict condition,” said Rich Jones, who oversees the county’s Marine Resources Division. “I hope that the At Risk bill will be successful in significantly reducing the number of derelict vessels in the Keys, as well as the rest of the state, in the near future.”

An FWC officer or local marine officer may determine that a vessel is at risk of becoming derelict if any of the following conditions exist:

• The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to remove water.

• Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.

• The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.

• The vessel is left or stored aground unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk. 

Monroe County is among a handful of counties participating in an FWC pilot program that gives local governments more control as to where vessels can be moored and on placing stiffer regulations on the pumping of sewage and keeping vessels from being abandoned. The pilot program is slated to sunset in 2017.

The county also received about $500,000 to go toward its vessel sewage pump-out program.

“Monroe County has had great success with their mobile vessel pump-out program,” Raschein said. “I am glad we were able to provide funding in the budget for it again this year. We are working so hard to protect our near-shore waters, and this program is a critical piece of that puzzle.”

tohara@keysnews.com

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DEP AWARDS GRANT FUNDING FOR BOATER PUMPOUT SERVICES IN FLORIDA KEYS

More than $500,000 dedicated to Clean Vessel Act environmental improvements

MONROE COUNTY – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has awarded more than $539,000 in grant funds to provide for no-cost boater pumpout services throughout all unincorporated areas of the Florida Keys. In conjunction with the Monroe County Marine Resources Office, the funds will be used to deploy six pumpout vessels, assist in operational costs and will ensure the proper disposal of boater sewage. It is anticipated that services will be provided to more than 1,300 boats per month. To date, more than $700,000 has been committed to this project.

“Pumpout services are essential for ensuring that the environment is protected and boater sewage doesn’t enter our waters,” said Brad Stombock, Director of the Department’s Office of Sustainable Initiatives. “These grants make it possible to service boaters who want to enjoy Florida’s waters and keep them clean.”

To date, the Florida Clean Vessel Act grant program has funded more than 400 projects across the state. These projects have prevented more than 13 million gallons of waste from entering Florida's waters. "Monroe County has operated pumpout vessels for the past eight years with the assistance of Clean Vessel Act funding," says Monroe County Mayor George Neugent. "In its commitment to increasing water quality and providing for a large liveaboard population, the county has contracted with PumpOutUSA to provide mobile pumpout services to areas of the Florida Keys."

Major Pumpout Service Locations in the Florida Keys Area:

  • 2 vessels at Key Largo
  • 1 vessel at Islamorada
  • 1 vessel at Summerland Key
  • 2 vessels at Key West

"The free pumpout program for recreational vessels has been a vision of PumpOutUSA for over three years," says Dan Martin, Director of Business Development at PumpOutUSA. "With the funding of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Clean Vessel Act through DEP and Monroe County, this program is now becoming a reality."

The Florida Clean Vessel Act Grant Program is funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Clean Vessel Act Program. Funds made available through this program are used to reimburse marinas up to 75 percent of the cost associated with the purchase, installation, maintenance, repair and operation of boater pumpout systems. The Sport Fish Restoration Program is funded through federal fees that have been added to marine fuel and fishing tackle. These fees are collected on the federal level and then are distributed to states for a variety of sport fish restoration projects including improving boating access, fish habitat and population restoration and the Clean Vessel Act grant program.

Source: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 19, 2013
CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

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  • About Us

    Founded in 1995 by Captain Donnie Brown, PumpOut USA™ was a direct response to the growing concerns about the environmental and ecological impacts of inter-costal vessel sewerage dumping. At PumpOut USA™, we are committed to being the Marine Service Boat industry leader.

  • Our Address

    PO Box 510454
    Key Colony Beach, FL 33051
    Tel: (305) 900-0263
    Website: www.po-keys.com

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