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EPA Protections for Waterway Vessel

For water traffic and vessels operating within United States waterways, the Environmental Protection Agency has established comprehensive regulations concerning the discharge of pollutants. Sea-going vessels had been excluded from these restrictions until early 2009, but now all vessels are subject to the Vessel General Permit requirements. The VGP is an environmental standard of compliance that apply to 26 types of normal operational vessel discharges. If a vessel is longer than 79 feet in length, these guidelines must be followed when traveling inland or coaster waters inside the 3 mile limit of United States territorial seas. There are different restrictions for vessels under the length requirement.

Filing Requirements

In order to comply with VGP expectations and maintain licensing, there are several requirements for water vessels.

  • Filing a Notice of Intent
  • Best Management Practices
  • Inspection Compliance
  • Recordkeeping and Reporting
  • Corrective Actions

In order to be in compliance, the information at advises that each of the 26 types of discharge must be included with the effluent discharge regulations. Many of these areas are related to the normal operations of the vessel. They include runoff from a deck washdown, antifouling hull coating leachate, bilge water, boiler blowdown, aqueous film-forming foam, chain locker effluent, cathodic protection, fire main systems, and gray water discharges. There are some inland waterways that have different water quality standards established at the state level, but potential infractions have been successful challenges in court when the vessel maintains the VGP.