drone view of a marina

The open waters of the Great Lakes and more than 11,000 inland lakes draw boaters from all over Michigan who want to enjoy these beautiful waters. Unfortunately, many services provided at marinas — such as boat maintenance, chemical and fuel storage, and bottom washing — produce dust, debris, and drips that fall to the ground with contaminants like heavy metals and oil. Eventually these pollutants can end up in lakes untreated, harming water quality and potentially impacting enjoyment and protection of these resources. To mitigate these challenges, Michigan Sea Grant provides a variety of tools to help boaters and marina owners/operators keep our Great Lakes waters clean and safe.

The Clean Marina Stormwater Toolkit provides marina owners with the resources they need to implement best management practices to treat and manage stormwater runoff before it enters the Great Lakes. It provides education and technical assistance to help marinas implement stormwater improvements. This decision-support toolkit helps marina owners and operators choose feasible and effective green stormwater management strategies that fit their facility.

Marina owners can also be recognized and receive additional support for their efforts. Participants in the Michigan Clean Marina Program voluntarily pledge to maintain and improve Michigan’s waterways by reducing or eliminating releases of harmful substances and phasing out practices that can damage aquatic environments. To date, more than 85 marinas have been awarded certification. Now, it’s even easier to apply to be certified with a new online system that was launched in late 2020.

In addition, marinas can potentially receive funding support to help fund some of these efforts. The Michigan Boating Pumpout Grants Program helps reduce pollution from vessel sewage discharges by encouraging safe disposal of recreational boater sewage. Public and private marinas that are open to the public can apply for grant funding to secure new pumpout and dump stations or upgrade their existing facilities. Facilities can also use grant funds to construct or renovate pumpouts and dump stations and to implement associated education programs. Applications are expected to be open in late spring 2021.

The marina and boating industries depend on clean waters and a healthy coastal environment for their continued success. These resources will help marinas and boaters in Michigan improve water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife, so the Great Lakes and inland lakes remain clean and healthy for all to enjoy.