The timing of the Maryland legislation requiring pump-outs, sponsored by Sens. Gerald W. Winegrad and Bernie Fowler, was beneficial for financial as well as ecological reasons. The state was recently granted nearly $1.5 million by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for pump-out facilities under the Clean Vessel Act of 1992. Maryland's 1994 allocation was 12 percent of the national total, due in large part to the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources' Boating Administration to present an ambitious, comprehensive plan to the federal government. Any unused portion of the funds reverts to federal coffers after 1997. The pump-out law will create the demand for needed facilities to ensure that the available funds will be used.
Because of the size of Maryland's grant, marina owners will not be required to pay for anything, although they must make their pump-out facilities available to all boaters in order to receive government funds. Installation, operation, and maintenance of the facilities, as well as any necessary upgrades to local sewage treatment systems, will be paid for by the federal grant and Maryland's Waterway Improvement Fund.
The Clean Vessel Act authorized a total of $40 million of Wallop-Breaux Trust Funds - used to fund various boat safety and fish restoration programs - through 1997 to help states pay for pump-out installation, maintenance, and education programs. For the Chesapeake Bay, this represents a fleeting financial opportunity to permanently change the way boat wastes are handled. But it will only happen if all the Bay Program states aggressively pursue federal funding while simultaneously advocating more rigorous boat pollution regulations to ensure that their federal grants will be spent before they expire.
Virginia currently requires all marinas to have pump-out facilities. But that law, in effect since the mid-1970s, has resulted in the installation of pump-outs at only half of the roughly 400 full-service marinas required to install them. In addition, many are obsolete or in need of repair. The $123,000 recently granted to the commonwealth under the Clean Vessel Act may help upgrade a number of those facilities, but state officials report that marina and boater resistance has resulted in an uphill battle, often fought in court. The commonwealth has applied for an additional $250,000 for 1995, but some question whether this is adequate to fund all the pump-outs that are needed.
Pennsylvania was recently awarded almost $100,000 under the Clean Vessel Act. The money will be used to fund a statewide survey to assess pump-out needs and to educate boaters. Only one pump-out facility will be installed at this time. The state has requested about $300,000 for 1995, some of which, if awarded, will be used for pump-outs at three marinas in the Susquehanna River. Pennsylvania has about 250 marinas, the majority of which are in the Lake Erie and the Delaware Bay watersheds. Although the state has included Chesapeake Bay watershed marinas in its proposal, they are not likely to receive federal funding. The grant program gives priority to those areas in the federally designated coastal zone, which does not include the Susquehanna River.