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Ten ways boaters can help restore clean water and salmon

Updated: Aug 9, 2018

Maintenance Practices

Maintain your boat regularly. Fix hoses and connections before they leak oil or gas into the water. Do repairs, pressure washing and painting in dry dock where possible to keep paint chips out of the water. Use tarps to catch pollunants when doing small repairs, sanding and scraping.

Cleaning Methods

Clean your boat during the beginning of the season while it is out of the water. Wipe up, rather than hose off any chemical residues. Reducinging chemicals and cleaning residues in the water can significantly improve aquatic conditions to support the recovery of imperiled fish and other aquatic life.

Garbage Disposal

Keep garbage from blowing overboard; bring it back to port for proper disposal. Each year, boats discharge nearly half a million tons of garbage into U.S. waters, where it can persist for long periods of time and is hazardous to people and aquatic life.

Sewage Disposal

Never discharge sewage - either treated or untreated - into waters; wait to use pump out facilities or dump stations. Improper sewage discharge poses a serious risk to human health and creates a poor environment for aquatic life by reducing the amout of dissolved oxygen in the water and increasing spread of harmful diseases.

Gas Tanks

Fill gas tanks only 90 percent full. Gasoline expands when warm and can spill from overflow vents into the water, where it is hazardous to fish and other aquatic life.

Overflow and Spill Cleanup

When fueling, catch any overflow with petroleum-absorbant materials (bilge pads and booms), and use oil absorbant materials in your bilge and for spill cleanup.

Recycle Materials

Recycle used oil, oil filters, batteries and antifreeze. Improper disposal of these materials can lead to long-term deterioration of water quality.

Exotic Species

Before entering new waterways, drain all bilge water, live wells, bait buckets and other water from your boat and equipment to prevent the introduction of exotic species. Voracious freshwater pests, particularly the zebra mussel and the aquatic weed hydrilla, have become established in Washington and California, where they damage intake systems, boating facilities and native marine life. It is important to slow the spread of these and other exotic species to protect our native environment.


Participate in an organized clean up to keep Oregon's waterways clean and healthy. The Oregon Adopt-A-River program offers opportunities for individuals, clubs, businesses, schools, and organizations to "adopt" a stretch of river, steam or lake. Call for more information.

Share Techniques

Talk to your friends and fellow boaters about the importance of protecting water quality and share these simple, daily techniques to help improve watershed health. To protect our water resources for future generations, all Oregonians need to make watershed health part of their daily routine.

The Oregon Plan for Salmon & Watersheds For more information on these and other ways we can modify our activities to help restore clean water and salmon, please call the Oregon State Marine Board. This guide for boaters is part of a series of lists targeting a wide variety of groups in Oregon. For more information, please contact the Governor's Natural Resources Office.

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