With roughly 150 marinas and 500,000 registered boats across the state, South Carolina has one of the highest densities of boaters nationwide. The sheer number of boats and marinas on the water presents a myriad of environmental challenges that call for proactive measures to prevent the degradation of wildlife and aquatic natural resources.
The goal of the South Carolina Clean Marina Program (CMP) is to protect and improve local water quality of South Carolina waters by reducing pollution from marinas. This voluntary pollution prevention program encourages marinas, boatyards, and yacht clubs to meet environmental standards at their facility and increasing environmental stewardship amongst their patrons through outreach and education. With more marinas participating, the South Carolina Clean Marina Program has significant potential to enhance conservation of the coastal and marine environment that we all know and love.
Administration for the South Carolina Clean Marina Program is led by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (SC Sea Grant) in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (SCDHEC-OCRM).
There are currently 22 certified Clean Marinas in South Carolina – all of which have gone above and beyond to exceed regulatory requirements by implementing environmental and managerial best practices through emergency planning, petroleum control, sewage and gray water, waste containment and disposal, storm water management, habitat and species protection and boater education.
Certified Clean Marinas in South Carolina:
Berkeley = 1
Beaufort = 8
Charleston = 5
Georgetown = 2
Horry = 3
McCormick = 1
Richland = 1
York = 1
Why is the program important?
The concentration of boats at marinas, along with their physical location on the water (usually in low-flushing area), creates the potential for a number of environmental contaminants to be introduced into our waterways.
The Clean Marina Program is an effective tool for maintaining and promoting environmental responsibility, with the end result being cleaner water. The voluntary, non-regulatory nature of the program encourages participation and cooperation between marinas, the boating public and regulatory agencies. Without it, states would be forced to further regulate marinas, which would cost time and money, limiting the potential for growth in a thriving industry. By meeting the criteria to become a certified Clean Marina, facilities (and the boaters who use them) can have peace of mind knowing that they are in compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations.
The program is valuable to marina operators because it can help reduce waste disposal costs, generate new sources of revenue, and attract responsible customers who respect our aquatic natural resources and follow clean boating practices. It also exposes marina owners to available funding opportunities, such as SCDNR’s Clean Vessel Act Grant Program, which makes provision of pumpout equipment more attainable for partnering marinas. Those that have achieved Clean Marina status receive additional recognition for their accomplishments in environmental stewardship by having their establishment promoted on SCDNR, SCDHEC, and SC Sea Grant’s websites. They are also authorized to fly the Clean Marina Flag and use the official program logo in their advertising – signaling to boaters that their establishment not only cares about the health of our waterways but takes proactive measures to protect them for future generations to enjoy.
How do you become a clean marina? To receive your Clean Marina designation, applicants must first take the South Carolina Clean Marina Pledge. Then, they are required to look at their current practices by conducting a self-assessment. Through this, all legal and core requirements must be met along with AT LEAST 80% of the optional items on the SC Sea Grant Consortium’s checklist (many choose to do more). These optional items that fall under the environmental umbrella include minimizing impervious surfaces, accessible emergency response equipment, using less toxic solvents, proper disposal of both pet and fish waste with well-marked containers, and educating marina staff on these practices so they can in turn recommend environmentally friendly practices to boaters. Items on this checklist are categorized into various subsections including, Boater Education, Facility Management, Fueling, and Emergency Planning, among others. Applicants are also given the opportunity to list additional measures they already take to further protect South Carolina’s waters by reducing pollution and waste at their facility.
The third step in the certification process is to participate in a 3-hour Clean Marina Certification Workshop. Hosted by SC Sea Grant, the workshop prepares applicants for accomplishing their requirements prior to their final inspection, which must be scheduled to occur within one year after attending.
Registration is still open for the next Clean Marina Workshop on August 25, 2021 at SCDNR’s Marine Resources Division Campus. This is an opportunity to learn about best management practices and how your marina can be a steward for a cleaner environment. Please contact Shelly McComb (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
For more info about the South Carolina Clean Vessel Act Program and available funding, please contact email@example.com or visit www.dnr.sc.gov/cleanvessel/
About the author: Guest writer Perry Fennell works with boaters and marinas across South Carolina through SCDNR’s Clean Boater Program. He grew up boating on the Potomac River and around the Chesapeake Bay in his uncle’s 1989 Boston Whaler 17’ Montauk. Today, his favorite place to boat is through the beautiful tidal marshes and barrier islands of South Carolina.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.