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Florida Sea Grant Extension & Education Program

Florida Sea Grant Extension & Education Program

Laws and Regulations

  • Where is it illegal to discharge treated (through a Type I or II MSD) sewage?
    • In any No Discharge Zone (NDZ). In Florida NDZs include Destin Harbor, City of Key West, and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.     
    • In any freshwater lakes, reservoirs, or other impoundments whose entrance and exits are too shallow for vessels with installed toilets to enter and leave. 
    • In any rivers not navigable by interstate vessel traffic. 

    Clean Water Act section 312 

  • Where is it illegal to discharge untreated sewage?
    • All state waters which include all inland waters and coastal waters extending roughly three nautical miles offshore in the Atlantic and nine miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. State waters may be marked on you navigation charts or mapping GPS as ‘natural resources boundary.’ 

    Federal law and Florida statutes section 327.53(4)(a) and 327.53 (5) 

  • When operating in areas where it is illegal to discharge, how do I comply with the law?
    • If you have a type III MSD (holding tank), close the Y-valve and secure it with a non-releasable wire-tie or padlock or remove the handle entirely.   
    • If you have a type I or II MSD without a holding tank, close the seacock and secure it with a non-releasable wire-tire or padlock, or remove the handle, or lock the door to the head with a padlock or door handle key lock.  
  • Do I have to have a toilet onboard?
    • Yes, if your vessel is 26 feet or more in length and has an enclosed cabin with berthing facilities. The toilet may be portable or permanently installed unless it fits one of the below descriptions.  
    • Yes, if you have a houseboat, it must be an installed toilet with a type III MSD and while on state waters the Y-valve must be set to prevent overboard discharge and locked or secured. 
    • Yes, if you have any floating structure with enclosed living space, with berthing facilities, or work space with public access. The toilet must be permanently installed with a type III MSD or permanently attached via plumbing to shoreside sewage disposal.  

    Florida statutes section 327.53 (1-3) 

  • I want an installed toilet on my boat, what type of MSD do I need to comply with the law?
    • Any vessel regardless of length may install a Type II or III MSD. 
    • If your vessel is 65 feet or less, you may install a Type I, II, or III MSD. 

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