The disposal of sewage is a major issue nowadays especially for declared vessels or those that operate in sensitive areas such as Moreton Bay or the Great Barrier Reef.
Before we go any further it’s good to have a little background on why the disposal of sewage is such a critical issue worldwide.
While many people think of it simply as human waste from what we put into our mouths there is a much darker side to sewage that most people don’t understand or even know about!
Whatever we ingest (swallow) goes through our internal digestive system to fuel our bodies but…
…what about the chemicals we take in such as prescribed drugs for things such as:
- Blood pressure
- Period pain
- Birth control
- many other prescribed; and
- not to mention recreational drugs!
In simple terms remnants of these drugs end up going down the toilet and if discharged into the waterways impact adversely on the natural environment and its inhabitants!
Those impacts end up affecting us in many ways across various sectors including…
- Recreational fishing
- Commercial fishing
- And others!
By adversely impacting on the environment, we directly impact on both our commercial and recreational activities not to mention income if you operate in any of those sectors above.
That alone is a very good reason for not pumping your sewage directly overboard in specified areas or without it being treated to specified levels.
If you operate a declared ship (vessel) you are required to have a Sewage Management Plan in place which complies with legislation in your State or Territory.
A declared ship has a fixed toilet and is:
- a domestic commercial vessel with a certificate of operation issued, or taken to be issued, under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 stating it is a class 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 4C, 4D or 4E ship, or
- an other Queensland regulated ship regulated under the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 and Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 designed to carry more than 12 passengers.
For all other vessels toilets must be fitted with a macerator or alternatively for some smaller craft use a Ports Pottie or similar system.
What’s required for a Declared Ship
As a declared ship has the potential to generate greater sewage capacity they must adhere to more stringent requirements including:
- the ship must be fitted with a sewage holding device
- the ship must carry a sewage disposal record book
- the ship must have a sewage management plan
- if the ship is fitted with a treatment system, records must be kept for all assessment and maintenance of the treatment system.
You’ll also need a disposal of sewage procedure. There are a number of things you must identify before developing your procedure, these are…
- What type of system do you have, is it…
a. Direct overboard (through a macerator of course!);
b. Into a holding tank; or
c. Through a certified treatment system
- Where do you operate: is it in a specific geographical area or multiple areas;
- How many persons are onboard.
Let’s go through each of these individually…
Type of System
If your system is direct overboard then you are restricted as to where you can discharge your sewage.
Smooth waters: includes rivers, creeks and designated smooth waters
- Nil discharge
Hervey Bay and Northern Moreton Bay Waters
- Nil discharge within 1 nautical mile from reefs, aquaculture fisheries resources and the mean low water mark of an island or the mainland for vessels with 1 – 15 persons onboard
- For vessels with 16 or more persons onboard – no discharge allowed
- Declared ships – Nil discharge
- For all ships: nil discharge within 1 nautical mile of aquaculture fisheries resources or within ½ a nautical mile of a wharf or jetty (other than a jetty that is a marina)
- For ships with 7 – 15 persons onboard nil discharge within 1 nautical mile of a reef or mean low water mark of an island or mainland
- For ships with 16 or more persons onboard – nil discharge in all Queensland waters
In your procedure you need to identify where or more importantly where you are not going to discharge sewage. If uncertain contact your local maritime agency.
The same applies to holding tanks where you are going to discharge them directly overboard. Where you use a pump out facility these locations need to be identified in your procedures as well.
Here you need to lay out how the pump out takes place including who is responsible, hose connections, communications between vessel and pump out operator, safety procedures and what happens in the event of a spill.
For treatment systems it will depend upon the rating of your system. If it’s certified for direct discharge then you need to identify who is responsible and incorporate what actions are required to operate the system and who is responsible for each step.
You also need to include general safety procedures and what to do in the event the system fails and becomes non-operational. It’s also good to refer to the operator’s manual for the unit.
Other information that you need to incorporate in your procedure is…
- who holds the overall responsibility for the operation
- how and where you record discharge locations (latitude & longitude, geographical location such as a marina or wharf, discharges into sewage tanker, shore-based facility, etc…)
- your general safety precautions when discharging
- your emergency response actions
- who to contact in the event of a spill
By ensuring you list all of the relevant items as outlined you will develop a procedure that applies to your vessel specifically and meets your requirements under MO 504.
If you operate a declared vessel ensure you have your Sewage Management Plan not only in place but that it meets the requirements of your state or territory. Secondly always ensure your sewage discharge records are up to date at all times. Need a Sewage Discharge Log then contact us today!
If you need help in developing your Sewage Management Plan it’s a good tip to contact someone who knows and understands the legislation to ensure both your procedure and Sewage Management Plan meet government requirements. Shorlink can deliver both for you so give us a call on 07 4242 1412.
Shorlink’s Sewage Discharge Log Book meets all the governments requirements and with a simple layout is easy to use. Recommended for all declared ship operators and for all others wanting to keep a record of their sewage discharge!