Keep your MSD (marine sanitation device) in good operating condition. Make sure all fittings,
hoses and other pump mechanisms stay clean and lubricated. Keep a
complete repair kit for your particular type of head on board. Use
rapid-dissolving marine toilet tissue specifically designed for MSDs.
Find a pumpout station. It only takes a few minutes
to pump the waste out of a holding tank.
Follow pumpout instructions. If instructions are not posted, or
unclear, ask. Encourage the marina operator to post
Rinse water through the pumpout system for one minute when finished
pumping. Expensive breakdowns commonly occur when the sewer lines
get clogged because of inadequate rinsing. Flushing water through
the system is an inexpensive form of preventive maintenance.
Pump out only your holding tank. Pumpouts are not designed to handle
bilge water or other substances.
Turn off the pump when finished so it will work for the next boater.
Consider using a mobile pumpout service if you prefer not to service
the head yourself.
Discharge Dos and Don'ts
Use onshore public toilets whenever possible. If you do not have an
installed marine toilet, consider equipping your boat with a
port-a-potty, which can be emptied at marina dump stations.
Never discharge raw sewage from any type of MSD into California
Never discharge treated sewage in shallow coves, near sensitive
shellfish beds or swimming beaches, or areas where water contact
sports are common.
The disinfectants used in many MSDs may contain chlorine, quaternary
ammonia, and formaldehyde, which can be harmful to aquatic life.
Whenever possible, choose disinfectants that do not contain the
above ingredients. Always use the recommended amount of any
Adding chemical deodorizers to your MSD does not constitute
treatment and does not allow you to dump wastes overboard.
If your boat has a Y valve for overboard discharge, you must secure
it in the closed position. The preferred method is to use a padlock
or non-releasable wire tie, or remove the handle entirely when
traveling on any inland waters and coastal waters within three miles
Discharge Ins and Outs of Pumping Out
Here are some tips on how to use a typical pumpout
Whatever the model, follow the instructions posted, and use the
pumpout for holding tank waste only. Pumpouts are not designed to
handle bilge water or solid material.
Close nozzle valve on pumpout hose.
Remove deck waste fitting cover from boat (attach nozzle guard to
deck waste fitting if available) and insert nozzle.
Turn on pump.
Slowly open nozzle valve. (Valves can be difficult to turn--be
Check the flow through the sight glass. If flow does not begin
within one minute, place the nozzle in water for ten seconds. If
there is still no flow, check for an air leak in the line or a plug
in the holding tank air vent.
When tank is empty, remove nozzle from fitting.
Place the nozzle in water for 60 seconds to flush the line. Flushing
helps prevent costly pumpout breakdowns.
Close the nozzle valve.
Turn off the pump and return the hose when you are finished so it
will work for the next boater.