North Carolina Clean Vessel Act

What is the Clean Vessel Act?

Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) in 1992 to help reduce pollution from vessel sewage discharges. The Act established a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and authorized money from the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund for use by the States. Federal funds are used for public outreach and for installation, renovation, operation, and maintenance of pumpout and dump stations. Marinas can be reimbursed by these funds for up to 75% of the approved project costs.

Purpose: Provide pumpout and dump stations for boaters to dispose of human waste in an environmentally safe manner. Pumpout stations are used to pump waste out of recreational boat holding tanks. Dump stations are used to empty portable toilets. Appropriate State agencies are the only entities eligible to receive grant funds.

Why use pumpouts or dump stations?

  • Raw or poorly treated sewage can spread disease, contaminate shellfish beds and lower oxygen levels in water. Waterborne diseases including hepatitis, typhoid and cholera can be transmitted by shellfish. Organic matter in sewage is decomposed in the water by bacteria. During this process, the bacteria use oxygen. As a result, sewage in the water may deplete the water's oxygen level, causing stress to fish and other aquatic animals.
  • Areas most likely to be affected are sheltered waters with low flushing rates, waters with significant recreational value, areas set aside for shellfish harvesting, State and Federally designated significant habitats such as those in Coastal Zone programs, as well as waters designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as "No Discharge Areas."
  • Increased sewage acts as a fertilizer causing excess growth of algae, which blocks out needed sunlight for aquatic vegetation which provides nursery habitat for fry or young fish.
  • Boats with holding tanks that discharge their sewage illegally and carelessly may be pouring large amounts of harmful chemicals in the water used as deodorizers in the holding tanks, such as formaldehyde, chlorine, and ammonium compounds.
  • Also, floating sewage tends to ruin your outdoor experience.

N.C. Clean Vessel Act grant proposal information

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is now accepting proposals to apply for a cooperative grant under the Clean Vessel Act Program. The required guidelines and form, Grant Program Guideline, Grant request and Operation & Maintenance forms are available to download from web. (See forms tab below).

The importance of keeping our waters clean is evident in all aspects of our lives. Your willingness to participate in this program accomplishes many benefits and will help us “Keep North Carolina's Water Clean”.

Thank you for taking the time and initiative to improve waste reception facilities for the boaters of North Carolina.

For more information please contact: 

NC Wildlife Resources Commission 
Clean Vessel Act
1720 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1720 
Phone: (919) 707-4092

Grant proposal guidelines



The North Carolina Pumpout Facility Grant Program for Inland Waters is administered by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Division of Engineering Services. The grant program was established under the federal Clean Vessel Act of 1992.

The goal of the Clean Vessel Act is to make pumpout and dump stations readily available and significantly more convenient for recreational boaters and marina operators. It should be as easy to receive pumpout services as any other common service usually provided at boating facilities.

This grant program will provide financial assistance in the form of matching funds for the installation or renovation of sewage pumpout and dump stations at boat docking facilities on inland waters.

Local permit requirements for pumpouts or dump stations and the specific local agencies that issue those permits may vary from county to county. Exact permit requirements must be determined on a case by case basis by the local agencies that have authority to review and/or issue permits. The applicant is responsible for securing all necessary permits (health, building, electrical, etc.).

Eligibility Requirements

Funding is available to private, commercial and municipal marinas, gas/service docks and other boat docking facilities in the inland counties of North Carolina. This excludes the following coastal counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans. Tyrrell, and Washington. Eligibility requirements for coastal counties are on the Division of Coastal Management Clean Marina site, see link below.

Division of Coastal Management Clean Marinas

Eligible Activities

Eligible grant activities include the construction, renovation, operation and maintenance, planning and engineering for pumpout and dump stations, including floating restrooms in the water, not connected to land or structures connected to the land, used solely by boaters.

Eligible grant activities also include any activity necessary to hold and transport sewage to sewage treatment plants, such as holding tanks, piping, haulage costs, and any activity necessary to get sewage treatment plants to accept sewage, such as installing bleed-in facilities. Modification of existing on-site septic systems is allowed provided that such a modification is necessary to handle the additional flow generated by the newly installed, or renovated, pumpout system or dump stations.

Funds will not be provided for the construction or renovation of upland restroom facilities, or the construction, renovation, operation and maintenance of on-site sewage treatment, such as package treatment plants and septic systems and municipal treatment plants for primary or secondary treatment. Funds will not be provided for activities that do not provide public benefits or enforcement activities.

Grant Amounts and Match Requirements

The North Carolina Pumpout Facility Grant Program for Inland Waters will provide financial assistance. Federal funds can constitute up to 75% of all approved projects with the remaining funds provided by the States or marinas. Grant recipients must provide a minimum of 25% of the total project cost. The match requirement may be met through a combination of cash, in-kind services (non-cash) and permit/engineering fees. Non-cash match, as well as all project costs, must be fully documented.

Public Access to Facilities and Maintenance

All recreational vessels must have access to pumpout and dump stations funded under the grant program, regardless whether the facilities are private, commercial, or municipal. Facilities shall continue to be accessible to the public during reasonable business hours for the full period of their useful life (minimum of 5 years).

Fees Charged for Use of Facilities

A maximum fee of $5 may be charged for the use of pumpout and dump station systems constructed, or renovated, with grant funds. The maximum use fee shall be evaluated for inflation and other elevated operating costs at the end of each year.

Types of Marine Sewage Pumpout and Dump Stations

There are four basic types of pumpout stations on the market. Each type of system has its advantages and disadvantages. Since every marina is unique, there is no one solution that will work in all cases. Therefore, each marina operator should examine their own situation and choose the system that will work most efficiently. The Commission does not promote, or endorse, the use of any particular brand or manufacturer.

  • Stationary Pumpout Unit: These units consist of a connector hose and pump which are connected directly to a local or municipal sewage treatment system. The unit is usually located at the end of a dock, often near a fueling station. Vessels access the pumpout station by approaching and securing to the dock or pier. Advantages are convenience, efficiency and speed of use. The principal disadvantage is that the unit restricts pumpout service to a single area of the marina, which may cause congestion.
  • Portable Pumpout Unit: This unit typically is a wheeled device, consisting of a holding tank, hose and mechanical or hand pump that is pushed along a dock to the vessel’s location. When full, the unit is emptied to the marina sewage system, or the sewage is removed by a licensed septic hauler. The advantage is that the unit is brought to the boat, rather than the boat to the pumpout station. When full of sewage, however, the unit can be heavy and cumbersome. Since it must be moved from boat to boat, the time required to complete the pumpout operation could be greater than that of fixed systems. Portable units require twice the effort in handling when compared to fixed units.
  • Portable Pumpout Unit on Vessel: This unit is a boat with a pumpout on board, consisting of a pump and holding tank. The advantage is the convenience of having the pumpout come directly to the boat needing service. Disadvantages are similar to a conventional portable unit.
  • Remote Operated Multi-station System: This system consists of a pump that transports wastes via a main sewer line to a central collection and treatment site. This unit can provide pumpout services at any number of locations throughout the marina. This system provides wastewater collection anytime and combines the convenience and efficiency of fixed units with the versatility of portable types. The disadvantages are that the system must be specifically designed for the marina and is the most costly of the four types.
  • Dump Stations: A dump station consists of a receiving receptacle for sewage from portable toilets and includes rinsing capabilities along with storage tank or sewer line connections.
  • Pumpout Boat: Pumpout boat is a boat that pulls up to other boats and empties their waste tank into a holding tank on the Pumpout boat. It takes the waste to a fixed unit on a dock, or shore area and unloads the waste into sewer lines. This process keeps boaters from dumping waste into our local water ways, keeping our waters clean, inhabitable for humans, fish, shellfish and all other aquatic life. Pumpout boats are making a tremendous difference in helping clean up our waterways.
  • Floating restrooms: The floating restroom is designed for ease of use, long-term durability and low maintenance. Integrity of the holding tank is a primary goal, even under abusive conditions, such as grounding and other impact. In general, the floating restroom is constructed of composite materials, in accordance with standard marine industry practices. Hardware components suitable for a marine environment are fitted for functionality and use.
  • Pump Watcher (The Flow Monitor Utility for Pumpouts): Pump Watcher provides real-time monitoring system to the marine industry by offering robust turn key solutions allowing you to remotely monitor, diagnose and proactively maintain your pumpout assets. The pump watcher system allow you to remotely login and check the performance of your valuable equipment and provide you with detailed reporting for those in the private or state marine industry. The pump watcher flow monitor utility is your first line of defense for monitoring pump usage and its health condition. With email and text alert you can schedule proactive service before a failure occurs.

Operation and Maintenance

Operation and Maintenance Reimbursement
The intent of Operation & Maintenance (O&M) reimbursement is to provide recipients of NC-CVA grants with funding to assist in the annual costs of upkeep and operation of boat-mounted pumpout systems. O&M is intended for routine replacement items and costs incurred annually and not for major repairs. To request replacement or repair of a pumpout system, please submit a proposal for a Renovation Contract using the Proposal Form.

Grants are dependent upon the current federal authorization of the Clean Vessel Act and North Carolina’s ability to secure these federal funds and available funding may be limited. Therefore no guarantees will be given for the amount of grant funds the applicant will receive during any period.

This is a reimbursement grant program. Funding is available for up to 75% of eligible costs with a maximum annual grant amount of $10,000 for upkeep and operation of boat-mounted pumpouts systems.

O&M contracts will reimburse acceptable costs that are incurred in a twelve month period beginning on the start date of the approved O&M contract. No O&M costs incurred prior to the O&M contract start date or after the 12 month Contract Period will be considered for reimbursement. An O&M contract will be mailed to those who have submitted an acceptable O&M Letter of Intent.

After an approved O&M Contract is in place applicants must submit all cost documentation within the dates of the O&M contract period. Only applicants who have submitted an acceptable O&M Letter of Intent and subsequently have been issued an O&M contract will receive funding. Every attempt will be made to reimburse for costs accrued on a quarterly basis, versus a onetime payment at the end of the contract period.

Facilities that charge for pumpout use will be required to account for the funds that are collected. The total amount of user fees collected must be subtracted from the costs claimed prior to determining the 75% level of funding.


More information about clean marinas

Clean Marinas (Division of Coastal Management Web Site)

Find out how to get your free Pump Watcher


If your Marina is located on one of the lakes that is owned by Duke Energy, you are eligible to receive a free Pump-Watcher. NCWRC Clean Vessel Act program is now offering to reimburse up to 75% of the cost for Pump-Watcher units. The remaining 25% will be offered through a credit to you by Duke Energy. For more information Click on Duke Energy Letter.

Pump Watcher ( The Flow Monitor utility for Pumpouts)

Pump Watcher is a reporting system that provide usage data from your pump. Designed to remotely monitor pumpout equipments (pumpout station, pumpout boat, floating restroom...). You are able to track, receive usage, maintenance and performance alert directly to your email or phone and you can schedule proactive service before a failure occurs.

Eligible Expenses

O&M is intended for routine replacement items and costs incurred annually and not for major repairs. For replacement or major upgrade of a facility, please submit a proposal for a Renovation Contract using the Proposal Form.

Eligible expenses include:
  1. Costs for routine maintenance and upkeep to the system that are directly related to the pumpout unit itself, such as new hoses, less costly replacement parts, plumbing and/or electrical parts, etc. Proper documentation must be documented using the Maintenance Log.
  2. Costs for staff time. Proper documentation is required and the following information must be provided on business letterhead and certified (signed) by marina official.
    1. Name(s) of staff
    2. Number of weeks worked
    3. Number of hours worked per week
    4. Staff pay rate
    5. Number of pumpouts provided for the season
  3. Costs for fuel, oil and routine maintenance for a pumpout boat.
  4. A facility that charges a fee for pumpout use is REQUIRED to track fees collected and must report them at the end of the year in order to receive O&M funding. The completed Pumpout Usage Log is to be used to track this income and is an acceptable proof of receipts.

Non-Eligible Expenses

  1.  No travel expenses will be reimbursed under this contract.
  2.  O & M that is related to anything other than the pumpout facility or which cannot be clearly separated from other expenses.
  3. Any direct charges for electricity, water or other routine costs that are of the type supplied to other equipment and operations of the marina.
  4. Personnel costs not directly associated with the O&M of the pumpout system.

Important information regarding your reimbursement

  1. In order to be considered for an O&M Contract an O&M Letter of Intent must be submitted to NCWRC. After review and approval by NCWRC of the O&M Letter of Intent an O&M Contract will be issued.
  2. Once an approved O&M Contract is in place then reimbursable expenses may start being accrued. Documentation must be attached to support all of the costs claimed for reimbursement.
  3. NCWRC reserves the right to pro-rate any costs that involve a multiple use and to issue funding at less than the amount requested if requirements are not met and/or determination is made by NCWRC that program needs require reduced funding levels.
  4. Failure to provide sufficient documents may result in that cost either being determined ineligible for reimbursement or will delay your reimbursement package and result in loss of all funding.
  5. All reimbursement requests and required documentation must be supplied to NCWRC within the dates of the O&M Contract.
  6. No guarantees are given as to the amount of total funding available in a given year or how long into the reimbursement period funds will last. You are therefore encouraged to review all guidance, have all forms completed as necessary and provide all proofs of payment as indicated in the guidance provided.

Acceptable Proof of Payment

  1. Invoices or receipts must be provided for all materials and services applied for in the O & M Grant. Make sure to keep all receipts from stores, credit card slips, invoices from vendors, etc. in addition to the items below. If not clear from invoice or receipt, please include details of what the supply or labor was used for.
  2. Cancelled check. This must be in the form of a copy of the front and back of the check or a copy of the front of the check with numbers on the bottom right corner of the check that coincide with the amount of the check.
  3. Credit card statement. Copy of the statement must be provided. If purchase was made through a personal account, the relationship of the account holder to the marina must be included. If the person who holds the personal account was paid back by the marina via a check, you must include the cancelled check. If paid back via cash, a written receipt of payment signed by the account holder must be provided.
  4. Cash. If cash payment is made somewhere such as a hardware store, etc. a receipt that indicates payment in cash is sufficient. If cash payment is made to a business that issued an invoice, then someone authorized by the vendor must sign with their title and date and write on the invoice “Paid in Full in Cash”.

Look for this sign
to direct you to a
pumpout station.