Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – While forecasters are predicting snow and freezing temperatures, Ocean County officials are envisioning warm weather and the upcoming boating season.
"I am pleased to announce this year marks our 20th boating season with the Ocean County Pumpout Boat Program," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the program. "Ocean County's pumpout boat program is the largest in the state and it has provided us with environmental benefits for close to two decades.
"This program has been a protector of Barnegat Bay and its tributaries and has been a safety net for our recreational boaters," he said.
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is scheduled to enter into operational agreements with a host of agencies that partner with the County on this successful program during its Feb. 15 meeting.
The partners include Brick Township, the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Museum, Seaside Park, and the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
"With their ongoing cooperation, this program has been recognized statewide for its outstanding performance in protecting the environment," Vicari said. "Seaside Park and the OCUA has been part of the program from the start. We appreciate all the agencies that have made this such a successful effort."
Since the program began in 1997, more than 70,000 recreational boats have used the free service and over 1.4 million gallons of effluent have been disposed of properly.
"This program has been a great partnership with the state, our municipalities, the Ocean County Utilities Authority and the Tuckerton Seaport," Vicari said.
Ocean County's pumpout boats are specially equipped vessels capable of emptying the on-board toilets and tanks of other boats, thus keeping waste from entering the bay. The boats cover different areas of the bay throughout Ocean County. The pumpout boats can be accessed by contacting the captains on VHF Radio Channel 9.
The costs to operate all the boats are split between the county and the Ocean County Utilities Authority.
"The $120,000 budget covers the boat captains, fuel, maintenance, insurance and other incidental costs," Vicari said. "This allows the service to be provided free of charge to boaters."
The state Department of Environmental Protection also provides some funds to offset the operational costs.
The seven boats that are part of the program were all purchased by Ocean County with the costs being reimbursed through the Clean Vessel Act Grant and the NJ Shore-to-Please license plate program.
Six of the boats operate regularly in the greater Barnegat Bay area while the Circle of Life, the first pumpout boat in New Jersey is currently used as a backup for busy weekends.
"I am very pleased to have sponsored the legislation that created the ‘Shore-to-Please' license plate program which helps provide funding for the pumpout boat program," said Freeholder Virginia E. "Ginny" Haines, who served in the state Legislature. "I am happy to see these funds resulted in such a successful program that helps to preserve Barnegat Bay and our environment."
Vicari said the pumpout boat program is essential for a county like Ocean County which relies on tourism for its economic base.
"When boaters are unable to use the many pumpouts based at the marinas throughout the County, they should be using the pumpout boats," he said. "We now operate six pumpout boats regularly that are helping us do our part to keep Barnegat Bay and its tributaries clean. We encourage all of our boaters who are out enjoying the bay and our rivers to use this free service and stop waste water pollutants from entering our waterways."
The boats operate Memorial Day weekend through October each year, including major holidays like July 4th, and have steadily expanded their operations.
Vicari again credited the boat captains for being "our eyes and ears on the water."
"They can quickly notify us of any problems," Vicari said. "They serve as our ambassadors on the water."
For more information on the pumpout boat program visit the Ocean County Planning Department's website at www.planning.co.ocean.nj.us/coastal.htm.