A National Park Service and District of Columbia Government Partnership, National Park Service, National Capital Region

Project Point of Contact

Julia Hewitt
National Park Service, National Capital Region
Phone: 202-619-7083
Email: Julia_Hewitt@nps.gov


The voluntary Clean Marina Program, established in 2002, is a partnership between the NPS; the NPS National Capital Region, which manages many shorelines in the area; and the D.C. Government's Department of Environmental Health, which manages water quality.  The Program promotes environmental stewardship, waste minimization, and pollution prevention at marinas and boatyards on the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.  The Program educates marina operators about the benefits of voluntary compliance rather than creating more regulations.  The Clean Marina Guidebook (essentially a premade Environmental Management System) is a methodical instructional guide.  It identifies practices that are required by regulation as well as Best Management Practices, which take a marina beyond compliance.  The checksheet is used to measure success.  The Clean Marina Program is a great success.  When the Program was initiated, it was not uncommon for marinas to have as many as four to eight violations per year.  Today there are zero violations.  Currently the Program includes 13 marinas, 10 of which are certified

Detailed Description

The Clean Marina Program was established in 2002 as a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Region (NCR) and the District of Columbia Government's (District) Department of Environmental Health.  Prior to this effort, for almost a decade, NPS, NCR has worked with the District, public interest groups and local communities and businesses to restore the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

Due to agricultural, urban and suburban development, the Potomac River has become highly vulnerable to pollutant loading.  In 1998, this river was designated an American Heritage River, after which the community and NPS joined forces to restore the river to a more healthful state.  The Anacostia River also became highly degraded due to increased non-point source pollution, sewer discharges and poor land use.  In 1999, the Anacostia River Restoration Strategy was created to outline specific ways to restore the river to its original beauty.  Pollution releases have resulted in poor water quality, low dissolved oxygen levels, high bacteria levels, high biological oxygen demand, sediment load and fish tissue contaminated with toxic chemicals.  This is important because NPS manages extensive shorelines while the District manages water quality.

The Clean Marina Program is an extension of these strategies.  By establishing a clean boating program on the rivers we can significantly improve the health and recreational vitality of both rivers by preventing stormwater runoff from marinas, drips from fuel docks, discharges from marine sanitation devises and ensuring marina operators are in compliance with the numerous Federal and State regulations allowing for proper land management.  The NPS and the District established the Clean Marina Program, a program that promotes environmental stewardship, waste minimization and pollution prevention at marinas and boatyards on the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

The Clean Marina Program is a voluntary program.  Similar to many coastal State programs (such as Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware) the success has rested with educating and getting marina operators to buy into the concept of compliance rather than burdening them further in an industry that is already heavily regulated.  Marina operators who buy into the program are also partners and once certified, serve as advisory group members assisting other marina operators in becoming a clean marina.  To become a certified clean marina one must achieve two things.  First, the marina must comply with all applicable regulations for their operations and second, the marina must go beyond compliance by implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs).

The key to success in any such program is the establishment of an educational component.  In this case, this is imperative due to the many environmental regulations by which the marina operators must comply.  For the Clean Marina Program the educational component was two-fold:  first the development of the Clean Marina Guidebook and second, training.  The guidebook is the foundation of the program.  Regulations can be confusing and conflicting, thus marina operators are not always clear on what they are expected to do when meeting their environmental obligations.  The guidebook is methodical and is setup as an instructional guide for easy reference for specific topic areas.  It identifies those practices that are required by regulation and BMPs, which take a marina beyond compliance.  The guidebook is targeted for any type operation that could potentially impact waterways and resources.

The guidebook outlines compliance requirements such as the Resource Conservation Recovery Act for the proper management, storage and disposal of hazardous material and waste; the Clean Water Act for discharges, development of Spill Preventions Control and Countermeasure Plans and Stormwater Management Pollution Prevention Plans; the Rivers and Harbors Act for in-water construction activities; the Oil Pollution Act for reporting releases to navigable waters and the Underground Storage Tank Management Act of 1990, which identifies owner operator management requirements.  The guidebook also contains examples of industry related BMPs to be selected that best suits the specific marina operation.  In addition, topic specific "tip sheets" are provided throughout the guidebook as a quick reference guide.  Valuable resources are contained in the appendices to assist marina operators, such as sample contracts for visiting contractors for compliance operations, local spill response companies and a summary table of regulations that must be complied with.

So how does a marina get started, be evaluated and get certified?  The guidebook serves as a focused Environmental Management System (EMS) for marina compliance.  It identifies goals, objectives and a tool for measuring success.  It articulates a process:  sign the self-contained clean marina pledge, fill out the self-contained clean marina checksheet used to evaluate compliance and BMPs (this will let marina operators know what needs to be accomplished) and submit the checksheet to the clean marina advisory group for an inspection and certification.

The checksheet is used to measure success.  It is systematic in approach for evaluating marina compliance and is developed from the guidebook contents.  Each section of the checksheet relates to specific chapters of the guidebook and requires a minimal (percentage) score for passing.  All sections must have a passing score for certification.  Once a marina is certified, they are recognized by receiving a certificate and clean marina flag for display.

The second and equally important educational component is training.  Since the program promotes compliance with numerous regulations that fall within the purview of a variety of other Federal agencies, these agencies/regulators are more to address those regulations they are responsible for implementing.  Training classes are held with professional peers to address specific topic areas contained in the guidebook.  Interaction with agency regulators allow for a more in-depth understanding of the requirements relative to site-specific matters.  For example, the United States Coast Guard discusses spill response, cleanup and notification procedures.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers discusses permitting requirements under the Rivers and Harbors Act for construction.

The Clean Marina Program has proven to be successful.  When the program was initiated in 2002, both government entities were faced with multiple fines.  It was not uncommon to have as many as 4-8 violations and associated fines per year.  Today there are no violations.  This is possible because marina operators have minimized waste generated, introduced green products recognized in the boating industry, implemented required or proactive measures to avoid potentially adverse situations such as spills and established general management policies for boaters utilizing the marina regarding environmental compliance.  Today, the program consists of 13 marinas committed to the program, with 10 being certified.

This partnership is consistent with Director's Order 20 Agreements, which allows us to establish formal relationships that allow the NPS to "more efficiently and economically accomplish its mission."  Partnering with the District has provided financial opportunities unavailable to NPS.  For example, the District can obtain grants from other Federal agencies, NPS cannot.  More specifically, since the inception of this program the District has submitted and received grant requests from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  As a result, the partnership annually received $15,000 from EPA to develop training materials, conduct training, purchase sample marine products, portable pump-out units and retain a consultant for program development.

Being a certified clean marina is the marina industry standard for the 21st Century.  It is consistent with similar State-established programs and recognized by Federal regulators.  The program signifies a commitment to environmental stewardship and meeting compliance requirements.  It symbolizes responsible land management and a commitment toward protection of our water resources for future generations.  This partnership is recognized on a regional and national level and extends the partnering effort with other States allowing informational exchange (whether for regulatory changes or industry updates) for the improvement and growth of these programs.  

The program received national recognition in 2002 from the American Planning Association receiving the Outstanding Federal Planning Award for the first of its kind program in the Federal government.  In 2006, the Marine Environmental Educational Foundation awarded the partnership a $5,000 grant for program sustainability.  Each year, the program receives a free booth at the District of Columbia Boat Show to promote clean boating in the Nation's Capital.  This program is being replicated by NPS on a national level through the concessions program for water-based concessions operations.

*Attached to this narrative are examples from the Clean Marina Guidebook to support the above, the guidebook on compact disk, the checksheet used to measure compliance and BMP implementation and the certificate used to recognize a certified clean marina.  A slide presentation is also provided showing the training message used for the boating community or for public events to deliver the programs purpose, process and key compliance concerns.

Additional Information

The Clean Marina Guidebook