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Boater to clean up pumpout stations

Stations along the ICW are being allowed to deteriorate because of maintenance costs

Stations along the ICW are being allowed to deteriorate because of maintenance costs

A New York man has launched a new program that he says will help keep pumpout stations in working order and, ultimately, help keep coastal waters cleaner.

Bill Hoerschegen hopes to help marina owners and other pumpout station owners by taking over the management of those stations. He’s seeking yacht donations to help offset costs of renovating and maintaining pumpout equipment, particularly along the Intracoastal Waterway.

“Our program is designed to restore and manage pumpout stations,” says Hoerschegen.

In exchange, he says pumpout services at those participating facilities would be free to boaters.

Hoerschegen, who also operates a pumpout boat in the Great South Bay area of Long Island, says many affordable pumpout stations are in disrepair because marina owners lack the funds to keep the stations operating. Federal funds are available to offset the costs of installing the equipment as long as the cost to consumers is low or free, but there is little available for maintenance, he says.

“There’s nobody really to blame,” says Hoerschegen. “Marinas and boaters have limited funds. Boaters have to get rid of the waste.”

He’s hoping that boaters considering donating their vessels for tax write-offs will choose this program. He launched the program in early September.

He’s also asking boaters to visit to complete a survey about pumpout stations.

“I want the boating community to be a part of this,” says Hoerschegen. “This program is based on the belief that boaters want to solve boaters’ problems.”

Hoerschegen, 41, has been a boater all his life.

“Spending time on the water was my solitude,” says Hoerschegen. “I have great memories as a child.”

He also has a desire to improve the water quality, particularly since the local clam population has dwindled, he says. In 2001 he launched a pumpout boat — a 21-footer he built. Last year he launched a retrofitted 23-foot Duffy center console with an inboard engine. He charged $5 for pumpout services, and relied on yacht donations to help offset the costs.

Faced with competition in the area from other pumpouts, Hoerschegen says he restructured the organization and decided to expand the concept from beyond his local waters. He says he believes it will take a while for the program to take off.

“My goal is to restore all of the pumpout stations that already exist, and eliminate the costs to those operators and the boaters,” says Hoerschegen. “And to ultimately protect the waters from potential pollution from vessels’ waste.”