“Water, water everywhere…” when it comes to boating and the yachting lifestyle, that’s more than the opening line of a famous nautical poem. How yacht owners handle the water inside of their vessels, has a lot to do with protecting the waters outside of them.

If you own or operate a motor yacht of any appreciable size, you are going to have to deal with two important water management issues, fresh drinking water for yourself and your guests, and proper disposal of waste or so-called “black water.”

Fresh Water Management

On most yachts of appreciable size, fresh water will be supplied by water stored in holding tanks. Any issues with taste or smell, or contamination of fresh water, is almost always related to algae, bacteria, mold or other contaminates that build up in the holding tanks. Here are some tips and takeaways for fresh water management:

  • Keep in mind that water in stored tanks will retain some of the taste and qualities of its original source, so, well-water will taste different from a municipal tap, etc.
  • Some taste issues and impurities can be removed by boiling.
  • Consult your owner’s manual for the proper instructions for filling and maintaining your water storage tanks.
  • It may sound like a no brainer, but be sure you can distinguish your water tanks, and their fill ports, from you fuel fill. Never pour gasoline in the water fill!
  • Conserve the use of potable water as much as possible while on board
  • You can use household bleach to clean your tanks and maintain water quality during extended voyages. Be sure to only use pure bleach, not one that has any added dyes or scents. The general rule is to add about one teaspoon of bleach for each 10 gallons of water. After adding the bleach, agitate the tank manually or take the boat for a short spin. Run faucets or other outlets to dissipate the bleach odor.
A Typical Marine Fresh Water Holding Tank

A Typical Marine Fresh Water Holding Tank


Marine Waste Water Management

Waste water, black water, or sewage management is very important, not only to avoid odors for the comfort of you and your guests, but to protect the marine environment. As the yacht owner you are responsible for complying with raw sewage storage and holding tank pump out regulations, and can be subject to fines for improper disposal.

The discharge of raw sewage from vessels operating in U.S. waters is strictly regulated and enforced by federal and state laws. Any vessel with a permanently installed toilet (head) must be equipped with a Marine Sanitation Device (MSD) that either stores waste until transfer ashore or, if discharged, reduces the chloroform count to levels that do not pose a health hazard.

Generally speaking you cannot discharge any sewerage, treated or untreated within a 3 mile radius of shore. Outside of the 3 mile range, sewage can be dumped, but only after it has been properly treated. States and local municipalities can and do make their own laws regarding marine waste water disposal, and some states have a “No Discharge” policy which makes it illegal to discharge raw or treated sewage within all state waters, including inland lakes.  Other tips and takeaways for marine waste water management include:

  • Make sure all of your guests understand how to properly use the head, and what items should never be placed in on board toilets.
  • Before you depart, make sure you are familiar with all of the local discharge laws along your route.
  • Make sure you are familiar with your waste water holding tanks and system, and that you are familiar with the cut off valves, pump-out openings, tank level monitors, and all electric switches that control sewage system components.
  • The simplest and most environmentally friendly way to discharge a full tank and avoid contamination, or fines for improper dumping, even if you are in a zone where it is legal to do so, is to plan intermediate stops at marinas with certified and approved pump-out stations.
Marine Sanitation Device

Marine Sanitation Device

On Demand Yachting Makes It Easier to Manage Water and Protect the Environment

Our On-demand Yachting solution can give you peace of mind when it comes to complying with waste water management or any other environmental compliance issues. Also as part of our routine maintenance, we will be sure that your fresh water tanks, and sewage holding tanks, as well as all plumbing and fixtures, are well maintained and operating at peak efficiency.

Cheers.. from On Demand Yachting!

Cheers.., from On Demand Yachting!


Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.