ANNAPOLIS Marina owners and managers have a chance to avoid more state regulation. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is encouraging them to clean up their pollution problems voluntarily.
More than 50 marina owners, managers and employees from the Annapolis area attended a seminar at Eastport Yacht Club Thursday to educate themselves on management practices that lessen water pollution caused by boat operation, maintenance and storage. Voluntarily adopting these measures could protect them from additional state laws.
“Governments, particularly in Maryland, have recognized the benefits of more voluntary-based initiatives instead of legal regulations,” said Tom Wood, leader of Thursday’s seminar. “We are in a very unique position to become pacesetters and leaders with this program.”
The marina operators say they want a little time to review the required pollution fighting procedures first.
“I’m going to have to evaluate the checklist to see if I can really meet the requirements,” said Sid French, owner of Oak Grove Marine Center, who attended Thursday’s seminar. “I have to look at the list before I can agree.”
DNR has held six of these Maryland Clean Marina Initiative seminars around the state to advise marina operators on methods to attack pollution problems in six areas: boat maintenance and repair, petroleum storage and repair, sewage disposal, hazardous wastes, storm water runoff and facilities management.
“This was developed in response to federal legislation,” said Beth Valentine, DNR Clean Marina coordinator. “What is new is the approach we’re taking that promotes and celebrates voluntary participation.”
All states must develop plans to deal with certain kinds of pollution within coastal areas, under the conditions of the Coastal Zone Management Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990. The specific types of pollution include storm water runoff from boat yards, fuel leaks and fish waste.
The federal government allowed the state to attempt voluntary initiatives before forcing it to impose new regulations on marinas, Valentine said. Maryland has until 2000 to certify 25 percent of state marinas as Maryland Clean Marinas.
“The state of Maryland is being regarded as the front- runner on this type of initiative,” said Sandy Zimmerman, with the Marine Trades Association of Maryland.
To obtain Clean Marina status, members of the industry must meet 70 to 85 percent of a four-page list of qualifications. Among the standards are cleaner methods of containing debris and waste, proper means of recycling, employee environmental training procedures and use of environmentally safe materials.
“We understand the challenges that businesses, particularly small businesses, have with change, but things have changed in the industry, and those businesses need to change, too,” Wood said.
After an owner or manager has met the requirements, a representative from DNR’s Clean Marina office and another marina operator from the Maryland Clean Marina Committee will visit the site to check for themselves.
The state will inspect all Clean Marinas every third year to make sure they still are operating according to the guidelines.
Initially, DNR is requesting that Maryland marina owners sign a pledge commiting themselves to the voluntary measures to reduce pollution. Thirty-five marinas in the state have signed.
“Clean water is good business,” Wood said. “This (program) is protecting the natural resources on which the business depends.”
Becoming an environmentally sound marina can reduce costs through recycling and generate additional money by attracting environmentally concerned customers, Wood continued.
“The kind of boaters that clean marinas can attract are willing to pay for that value,” he said.
In the end, the program depends on the marina owners and managers to agree to the pollution-fighting methods.
By focusing on the positive economic impact and the fewer state regulations that come with voluntary acceptance of the Maryland Clean Marina Initiative, state representatives hope to sway the necessary 25 percent.