Who’s to blame for poor water quality?

What is it about seasonal reports on water quality issues in the summer months? Here in New England, some reports have even called for beach closings. 

It seems that fingers are always pointed at commercial and recreational boaters who may be flushing onboard heads directly into the water.

Sure, far more inshore vessels (commercial, fishing and recreational) operate in the summer months. I might also agree that many older vessels don’t have holding tanks so they dump directly into the ocean no matter where they are. I’ve actually witnessed commercial vessels dump their holding tanks very close to shore. (Quite a sight and aroma!)

That said, let’s consider some other potential causes of lower water quality in the warmer months.

Many harbors were formed by rivers that empty into the ocean at the head of a harbor. Does any water quality tester take samples in the fresh water areas above the ocean to see what chemicals, effluent, livestock runoff, industrial tailings, swimming beach runoff or lakeside cottage septic are entering into the water system before it reaches the ocean? I have only seen reports of ocean testing at various locations in that particular kind of harbor.

I have also seen huge blossoms of waterfowl activity in many harbors and bays. Geese especially have a digestive system that seems to work overtime, leaving serious amounts of excrement on land next to our bays and harbors. We can only imagine how much stuff geese and ducks drop directly in the water.

I’m not defending or blaming anybody or anything. I’m merely pointing out that more thought should be given before anybody starts pointing fingers at the commercial marine industry for water quality issues.

We all know that the marine industry can do a better job of informing the public that we care about water quality. And we can do a better job of communicating the positive steps we are taking to help keep our waters clean.

Simply buying pollution insurance doesn’t let you off the hook.

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Workboat Staff

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