Jul 07, 2023

How to Keep the Bay Clean: A Boater’s Resource in Morro Bay

Summer is here in Morro Bay and for many people that means getting out on the water to recreate. If you are a boater, here are some reminders and tips to make sure you are keeping the bay clean! 

1. Make sure what goes in the head stays in the holding tank: Check your Y-valve for leaks

When you flush the head on your boat, untreated sewage moves into your holding tank. Your Y-valve is the only thing standing between that sewage and the bay waters that we all enjoy. Because of this, keeping the Y-valve closed is a must, and making sure it’s air- and water-tight is just as important.

Luckily, checking for leaks is easy. All you need is two dye tabs and about three minutes. Purchase the dye tabs from your local marine supply store, then drop the tabs into your head and let them sit for 1–2 minutes to soften. Flush, and then head toward your discharge port to make sure there’s no dye in the water.

If the water is clear, you’re good to go. If you see dye in the water, you’ve got a leak that needs to be repaired to keep human waste out of the bay.

How to test your Y-valve on your marine head to ensure that it is not leaking.

2. Know before you go: Locate your nearest pumpout stations

If your Y-valve is working, keeping sewage in the tank won’t be a problem. But, you still need to find a pumpout station before the tank gets full. If you’re boating in Morro Bay, you can find a pumpout station that will work for you using the map below. It also shows you other resources (like battery and used oil collection sites) that might come in handy.

These are the current pumpout station facilities in Morro Bay. Use this to find what you are looking for.

Another great resource is the Pumpout Nav app. Wherever you are along the California coast, it will show you the closest pumpouts, let you know whether they are working, what it costs to use them, and when they’re open. The Pumpout Nav app is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Download this free resource to find pumpout services all over California and for more educational tips!

3. Every drop counts: Stock up on absorbents and recycle your waste

With hundreds of boats on the bay, it’s important to keep all chemicals, oil, etc. contained—down to the last drop. In order to do that, you’ll want to keep plenty of absorbents on hand to mop up any spills that occur onboard. You can pick them up at the store, or participate in the Harbor Department’s free absorbent exchange program. They’ll fix you up with the supplies you need; just bring them back for recycling once you’ve used them. You can also drop off used oil, antifreeze, and more for disposal. Just give the Harbor Department a call at 805-772-6254 to find a good time to stop by.

Prevent fuel spills by using fuel bibs, donuts, and other devices that help avoid oils spilling while fueling your boat.

4. Leave no trace: Bring all your disposables home with you

One important way to help keep our waters clean is by keeping track of all food wrappers, bottles, and any other items that you take with you when you leave the shore. Morro Bay can be windy, so we recommend keeping lightweight plastic scraps in a container with a lid, so that nothing blows overboard accidentally. (This tip can be helpful when you’re on a hand-, sail-, or foot-powered boat, too!)

5. Get a copy of the Boater Resource Guide for Morro Bay

You can find this online here with the Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department or find a copy in our Nature Center on the Embarcadero! Also, look for our Clean Boating tips card to take with you.

Boater Resource Guide

Find a copy of this card to take with you and share with others in our Nature Center at 601 Embarcadero, Morro Bay.

You can learn more on our webpage about clean boating here. 

Help us protect and restore the Morro Bay estuary! 

Thank you for helping our beautiful, bountiful, biodiverse bay!