North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

The NC Inland Clean Marina program is a voluntary program by working to protect and improve local water quality by promoting the usage of environmentally sensitive practices at marinas. The program provides the opportunity for public and private marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs to receive recognition for helping to establish and promote a cleaner marine environment for North Carolina.  

If a facility is in compliance with existing environmental regulations and uses a high percentage of the recommended best management practices, it can be designated as an NC Inland Clean Marina and they will receive a Clean Marina Certification and a flag. Such certified marinas are authorized to fly the Clean Marina flag and use the logo in their advertising. The flag and logo are signals to boaters that a marina cares about the cleanliness of NC’s waterways and to provide clean facilities to the boating community and protect waterways from pollution.

Marinas that do not meet the standards will be able to learn about improvements needed for clean marina designation. Marina owners can reapply after making the necessary changes. 

Clean Marina is a nationwide program developed by the National Marine Environmental Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to clean up waterways for better recreational boating. The foundation encourages states to adopt Clean Marina principles to fit their own needs. North Carolina Inland joins South Carolina, Florida, and Maryland as states with Clean Marina Program in place. 

Problem with Marina Sewage

Keep Our Water Clean

More than 350,000 boaters use North Carolina’s waterways, and their numbers both commercial and recreational are increasing each year.

Clean water is important to all of us. Yet many of us who depend on water for our activities are sources of water pollution. People throw trash over the sides of boats, they spill gasoline while refueling, and they dump boat sewage into the water.

Polluted water is a health risk, and it can wreck a water-based economy. We need to protect our Inland water from pollution. One way is to properly dispose of sewage from work boats and pleasure craft.

Untreated marine sewage poses risks to public health and the environment and some chemicals used to treat sewage can be toxic to marine life.

You can help keep our waters clean, whether you own a large fishing boat with onboard toilets or whether you own a small sailboat with a port-a-potty. Don’t dump your waste into the water. Use pumpout and dump stations instead.


Why is marine sewage a problem?

Marine sewage poses a number of threats to public health and the environment.

Health risks
When you pump or dump marine sewage directly into the water, you can introduce disease-carrying microorganisms into that water. The bacteria and viruses found in raw or partially treated sewage can cause diseases such as gastroenteritis, hepatitis, typhoid and cholera. You may be at risk for these diseases if you swim in waters contaminated by marine sewage. Disease-causing organisms in the water can build up in the bodies of shellfish. You may at risk if you eat raw or partially cooked shellfish from sewage-contaminated waters.

Environmental hazards
Marine sewage can cause a host of problems for water and marine life:

  • Sewage and Oxygen: Sewage in water decays. As bacteria and other microorganisms in water break sewage down, they use up oxygen. That's oxygen that fish and other marine life need to breathe.
  • Nutrients: Marine sewage is high in nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. The nutrients can cause algal blooms -- large, fast-growing colonies of floating algae. These blooms can block light from other plants growing on the bottom. Once the nutrients that support the blooms are used up, the algae begins to die. As the algae decays, it uses up oxygen, reducing that available for fish and other marine life. 
  • Sewage Chemicals: Many boaters use chemical additives, such as chlorine and formaldehyde, to disinfect or control sewage odors on board. Most chemicals on the market today are biodegradable and are believed to be safe if used as directed by the manufacturer. But if you use the wrong type of additives or use more than recommended, those chemicals can be toxic to marine life.

Where is the risk greatest?
Problems associated with marine sewage are greatest in enclosed marinas and harbors, or other areas where water circulation is poor. Without good circulation, marine sewage is not dispersed and dissipated quickly. This allows sewage to build up and remain in an area for long periods of time. The larger the amount of sewage and the longer it is present, the greater a threat it is to human health and the environment.

How Marina Operators Can Help

As a marina operator, there are a number of things you can do to protect the waters you depend on for your livelihood:

  • Install pump-out and dump station facilities on your own, with nearby marinas or through the Marine Sewage Pumpout and Dump Station Grant Program. 
  • Establish and enforce a locked head policy.
  • If you have pumpout or dump stations, post a standardized sign. Signs are available free from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
  • Maintain your pumpout or dump stations in good working order.
  • Encourage boaters to use pumpouts and dump stations. Give boaters information on marine sewage. 
  • Participate in surveys on pumpouts, dump stations and marine sewage. 
  • For more information on Marine Sewage Pumpout and Dump Station Grant Program, contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (Clean Vessel Act).
  • For additional ideas on how your marina can help protect water quality, check out our manuals on Best Management Practices for NC Marinas (PDF).
  • Use best management practices for pressure washing boats (PDF).

UST Operator Training


Be aware that your facility needs trained operators. For more information visit this website.

UST Operator Training
The Federal Energy Policy Act enacted by Congress in 2005 mandated training for all UST system operators. North Carolina’s operator training requirements are located in NC General Statute 143-215.94NN through TT (PDF) and identify two types of operators who must receive training: a Primary Operator (Class A/B) and an Emergency Response Operator (Class C). By August 2012, all facilities with UST systems permitted through the Division of Waste Management must have trained Primary and Emergency Response Operators.

It is the responsibility of UST owners to designate a Primary Operator for each UST facility. The person designated as the Primary Operator should be an individual who is responsible for the day-to-day aspects of operating, maintaining, and recordkeeping, and has a general knowledge of the UST compliance requirements listed in 15A NCAC 2N, Criteria and Standards Applicable to Underground Storage Tanks.

North Carolina’s training for Primary Operators is conducted at each UST facility during a regular compliance inspection. The UST inspector for the county where the facility is located will contact the UST owner to schedule to schedule that inspection. If a facility is in compliance and its Primary operator can score 75% or better on the on-site written assessment, than a training certificate will be issued. If the Primary Operator cannot successfully complete the training or the facility is not in compliance, then retraining at Tank School will be required. Information regarding Tank School is mailed to the UST owner of any facility that requires retraining after the compliance inspection. 
For more information visit this website:

Become A Clean Marina Facility

To participate in the Clean Marina Program, fill out the enclosed application identifying all the way that a clean environment is promoted at your marina. There are several areas where your marina must be using best management practices (BMP’s) in order to be identified as a Clean Marina. If your facility qualifies on paper, a Clean Marina Program representative will visit your site to visually identify BMP’s implemented at your facility.

When it has been verified that your facility meets the Clean Marina criteria, you will be issued a Clean Marina flag and Clean Marina Certificate, identified on the Clean Marina website (including a link to your website) and you will be able to use the Clean Marina logo in all of your publications. Re-certification of your facility by a Clean Marina representative is required every two years to renew your standing. You should reapply at least two months prior to the expiration of your certification.

Please send completed applications to:

NC Wildlife Resources Commission
Clean Marina Program
1720 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1720

Download A NC Inland Clean Marina Application

Application for Marinas only

Application for Marinas & Boatyards

Application for Boatyards only

More Resources

NC's Inland Clean Marinas

Lilly's Bridge Marina
1183 Lillys Bridge Rd.
Mt. Gilead, NC 27306
Phone: (910) 439-2104

Certified on 02/08/2016


Stutt's Marina

571 Stutts Rd.

Mooresville, NC 28117

Phone: (704) 664-3106

Certified on 05/17/2018


Tailrace Marina

1010 Marina Village Dr.

Mount Holly, NC 28120

Phone: (704) 827-0000

Certified on 05/23/2018


Belmont Riverside Marina

1500 River Drive

Belmont, NC 28012

Phone: (704) 813-4591

Certified on 05/23/2018


For more information about the program please contact 

NC Wildlife Resources Commission 
Clean Marina Program
1720 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1720
Phone: (919) 707-0150