Waste and sewage disposal

Protecting our waterways is a shared responsibility. Respect and care for the marine environment by disposing of waste correctly. Here's how.

General waste

You must not dispose of rubbish or any other waste from your vessel into the water.

You can help protect the marine environment by:

  • collecting all your rubbish on board and disposing of it properly on shore
  • using low-phosphate or no-phosphate soaps and detergents in sinks and showers
  • wiping cooking utensils and plates clean with a paper towel before washing.

Cleaning your vessel

When you wash your vessel, you must do everything you can to protect the environment. Practical steps include:

  • Where possible, use an approved slipway or wash bay with waste containment and wastewater controls.
  • Rinse trailered vessels with fresh water after each trip.
  • When your vessel is moored, remove any slime or growth that's beneath the waterline with a soft cloth, brush or sponge.
  • When cleaning, avoid removing surface coatings – such as antifouling paint – while your vessel is in the water.
  • Minimise use of chemicals or degreasers.
  • Check product labels and use non-toxic, low- or no-phosphate and chlorine-free cleaners.
  • Use highly diluted detergent solutions.
  • Do not let the wastewater run back into the waterway.

Oil and chemicals

You must not discharge oil and chemicals from your vessel into the water.

Make sure you:

  • keep bilges clean to prevent pollutants being discharged
  • refuel small vessels and refill fuel containers on shore, away from the water, avoiding overfilling
  • clean up any oil or fuel spills quickly.

You must report marine oil or chemicals spills to:

  • Transport for NSW (Maritime) on 13 12 36, or
  • Port Authority of NSW on 9296 4999, or
  • NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on 13 15 55.

Sewage

You must not discharge raw sewage into NSW waterways. For recreational vessels, your options for sewage storage are:

  • an onboard toilet with a holding tank
  • a small portable toilet with a holding tank
  • onshore toilets.

Houseboats must have an onboard toilet with a holding tank.

Raw sewage from a holding tank must be discharged at a pumpout facility or toilet.

Some vessels built before November 2005 have an approved onboard sewage treatment system. If your vessel has one of these systems, the treated sewage must be discharged at a pumpout facility.

You must never discharge sewage in or near marine parks, waterways used for aquaculture – such as shellfish harvest areas – or for recreation.

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