Notes from CVA Open Forum Webinar – 1/7/2015

Thanks to Mike W. from Vermont for starting the webinar with a description and encouragement to attend the SOBA Conference in Vermont, Sept. 21 – 24, 2015. 

Topic: Reasonable Hours

The webinar presentation gives the language in the original CVA Final rule and the amendments completed with the CVA Signs…Final rule. Lisa asked if anyone on the call had an comments as to if the current language is sufficient, too much, not enough, etc.

Joe Migliore (RI) – In RI it is mostly self-service, so staffing is not an issue. May want to consider looking at the and/or in the section.

Al Wolslegel (WA) – No major issues. Also mostly self-service.

Al Ortiz (R5 CVA Coordinator) – In R5 they have received some complaints saying that facilities not available. They are looking for pumpouts to be available during the winter.

Joe – Sometimes boaters want winter access and there are no CVA facilities open. Sometimes they wait for thaws to get service. Some marinas use mobile pumpout carts to service winter boaters . * Lisa note: Great idea.

Joe – He implements the Monday morning rule. If there are no complaints on Monday, all must be working OK. They require that reasonable hours be posted.

Preston Smith (VA) – They require access during “normal working hours.” They have had some complaints during the winter, but leave it up to the operator to decide if they will remain open or not. The State tries to help with manual (cart) pumpouts if needed. VA runs their pumpout program year round, but it is scaled back in the winter.

Lisa- Asked Preston to explain to the group how their program works.

Preston – The State has a supply of mobile pumpouts available. A contractor can contact them to borrow a mobile pumpout for the winter and they can use it for no charge. They will return it in the Spring, the State refurbishes it, and then it is available for use during the summer.

Al O. – Preston also uses the mobile pumpouts for education, boat shows, etc.

Lynne VanDenburgh (NY) – They receive complaints because many pumpouts are not open after Labor Day and many boaters still going out, especially if a mild Fall.

Al O. – asked Lynne if mobile units might be an option.

Lynne – Many marinas are closed.

Someone made a comment that following Superstorm Sandy that many families were forced to live aboard their boats because their homes were damaged and some transients had to stay longer because they couldn’t move about as easily.

Joe - In Newport, RI there is a private pumpout boat that operates during the winter. They charge a her fee, but those that need it during the winter are happy to have it. 

Lorene Reid (GA) – Georgia has just gotten back into CVA, but they are open year round.

Kathy Justinson (IL) – They are basically open March – Oct. No problems or complaints. They require posted signs with operation during normal working hours.

Scott Meister (SC) – No complaints for availability. Pumpout equipment must be available during reasonable business hours.

Melanie Titus (NH) – No problems on coast, pretty good coverage there. Some issues on inland lakes. 

Ron Kent (CA) – They are open during reasonable hours and require signs. Most of the calls they receive are due to equipment not working.

Don O’Neil (MD) – They also require reasonable business hours. From time to time they receive winter calls. Most boaters can usually find something in the winter. There used to be a private company or two that provided winter service. He generally tells boaters that wish to operate during the winter to consider a boat with a combination system, so they can use pumpouts when open, and legally dispose in appropriate areas when not.

Christy (MD) – If boaters contact them during the winter, they try to help.

Lindsay Harrington (NJ) – Have set hours for pumpout boats; but for stationary pumpouts at marinas they just use reasonable hours. Boats are 9 – 5, Friday – Monday (minimum).

Kate Brown (CT) – Pumpout boats run from April 15 – Nov. 1 generally. Beyond that it is mostly residential. For stationaries, it is up to them to determine season.

Cecil French (MA) – Use reasonable business hours. Sometimes, when winterized, there may be some live aboards.

Joe – He has had some contact re: some interesting technology using solar panels that will help keep pumpouts available during the winter. Haven’t heard if it is successfully implemented.

Kathy Smith (MN) – She talked about the live aboards and the disservice, as she sees it, to recreational boaters. If the use by live aboards results in a shorter useful life, then recreational boaters and the program suffers.

Joe – They try to help if they can. 

Kathy – She feels they are forced to have 2 types of systems (one for recreational and one for live aboards) or use a portable unit during cold weather.

Joe – The portable unit is the best in the winter as it gets around the problem of pipes freezing.

Kathy – Has anyone considered using electrical tape or similar around pipes to keep from freezing?

Joe – Will that work on PVC piping?

Kathy – Maybe PVC with metal around it?

Joe – Cost effective? Also, he views a gray area with live aboards that are transient and not houseboats.

Al O. – If it is a houseboat, it is not eligible for CVA-funded service.

Kathy – The question is, what is a live aboard? ** This question led to a conversation separate from the reason open periods and more about definitions and restrictions.

Chirsty Vigfusson (FWS HQ Program Lead) – If recreation is the primary purpose, it is recreational.

Ron – Wants clarification as to what is a recreational vessel. They want to service sport anglers only and not cruisers.

Kathy – Where is the gas tax? Why retrict?

Someone mentioned sailboats. (Referencing not generally powered by gas)

Ron – They allow charter boats. The question is, how do we classify them as recreational?

Christy V. – If the primary purpose is as a residence, then not allowed for CVA.

Al W. The problem with live-aboards is them wanting to be classified as recreational. On water residence vs. recreational vessel. He talked about where tax comes from. They have house boats up there that are chartered weekly, etc. and that travel. Where do they fall?

Al O. Do those houseboats navigate?

Al W. Yes, they do. They are rented and you go where you want.

Kathy – Federal definition. Would it be possible/legal for States to say the boaters can’t do something when the Feds say it is OK?

Al O. States can always be more restrictive than the Federal regulations.

Joe – RI does not fund O & M. He is alone doing the program. He forms partnerships to help with that. He doesn’t have time to monitor what can and cannot receive service. (if need to distinguish if the boater lives on the boat or not)

Christy/ Lisa – Concur with Al O.

Ron – If CA comes up with their own definition, would that be OK?

Christy V.  – It can be more restrictive that the Federal definition, but not less.

Ron – It will be difficult having to decide how to segregate. Allowing a recreational vessel and also use as a live-aboard? (He mentioned audits)

Joe – He doesn’t want to go there.

Ron – He is saying No to live-aboards and getting push back.

Joe – Suggest you differentiate by whether it is navigable.

Kate – Who audited you and what did they say?

Ron – DOI did the audit.

Kate and Ron talked about this. The audit finding for allowing commercial? Not documented if live aboard or recreational. Cost prohibitive to document all boats. Discussed that audit finding can be disputed. Asked if Al O., Christy V., or Lisa have a response?

Al O. – Maybe it was the commercial aspect.

Al W. – The regulation definition allows some things in his perspective.

Christy – Yes, there is a difference between charter and rental.

Al O. and Al W. – the definition needs to be clearer.

Joe – All should be able to pumpout. Something needs to be fixed!

Kate gave a description of the situation as she sees it. Discussed recreational boaters, the CVA Act, etc.

Joe – Should be allowed as long as charged appropriately.

Christy V. –That would take a legislative change.

Scott – They allow pumpouts for fishing charters. Commercial shrimp boats and gambling boats, they do not.

Lorene – Same as SC.

Leo – Good point. Fishing charters pay into the fund and involves fishing. Large problem with recreational, live-aboards, and telling which is which. Some are obvious, some gray areas. Transient, recreational boaters, live-aboards, but need exists for all to properly dispose of wastes. Pumpout stations and vessels all need money and some can’t reimburse. Something needs to give.

Vivian (CA) – The No Discharge Zone (NDZ) is inconsistent and inconvenient. The point is to keep the water clean , but we refuse the service to some. One group says Yes, another says No. Unclear message.

Leo – Right. Charges are also inconsistent.

Kathy – Lots of thoughts. The point of CVA is to keep waters clean. As a FAC her goal is to provide service through granting systems. Why refuse service? Can we charge different rates? Let’s not exclude, but treat differently.

Leo – We need to charge more than $5.

Vivian – She conducts I & E on the ground. How do you explain these boundaries? Live aboard or not? Doesn’t make sense.

Kathy – She contacted Sara from MN. There are lots of boaters that just party and do not go to land to use the restrooms. She is teaming with a local brewery to help the local lake association put in a floating restroom.

Don – Isn’t is really a service for only those who pay into the fund? Not sure the other things can be considered, regardless.

Sorry, missed name (CA) – If the Federal law says you have to segregate, it is ridiculous.

Victoria – The problem is the NDZ and inconsistency.

(CA) – Every State has the option to go No Discharge. Many used CVA to get that. The Federal government is inconsistent.

Victoria – The playground must be clean and green.

(CA) – Our shellfish are good!

Mike W. – VT has no live aboards, no shellfish beds. Mostly coastal and it is already a preference.

Joe – They are just maintaining the infrastructure.

Someone asked if anyone has had a shortage of CVA funds yet? So far, they can’t spend all they have.

Ron – Brought up a private boat that charges $15 for 25 gallons. Is there a way to let the marinas charge larger fees for live aboards and have the facilities available?

Kathy – Wouldn’t that cause a major audit/tracking nightmare?

Joe – Most do it for Free.

IL – the same.

Leo - They are year round. Need clear direction.

2:10 PM. At this point, Lisa called a time out and asked to switch to the second topic, Administrative issues. This can be Fed/State, State/subgrantee, or anything considered Administrative.

Scott – When awards are released it keeps getting later and later. It makes it hard to do a budget.

Christy V. – On same topic, if input on due date, it would be helpful to her.

Mike W. – timing of submissions is bad. Many marinas are getting boats out of the water and closing up. Move the submission back to January instead of Dec. The award date is fine.

Scott – Disagrees. He tries to do early grants. He needs the funds in the Spring and the Fall. He does 2 grant rounds.

Mike W. – His are mostly construction, so if the grants come in the Spring, there isn’t enough time anyway, so they push until next winter.

Al O. – Asked for clarification.

Mike W. – It is worse timing if it runs the same schedule as BIG.

Joe – January would give one month less lead time to get the grants out. They must start work in April to get it done.

Al O. – When send?

Joe – They do a 30 day grant offer based on State policy.

Christy V. – Please clarify.

Joe – He does grant requests every 2 years. He can’t take as requests, but has to advertise per State requirements and do an internal ranking and grant. Do 2x/year.

Al W. Current process works fine for WA. They have an open period with no restrictions.

Lorene – GA has no issues. Always have $$. Open process as well.

Joe – Maybe his issue is with the State process and he needs to look into that.

Lorene – How can some States offer services for free? I think that some States might have it in their State budget, so they have more money.

Al O. – Referred to Don.

Don – MD has waterway improvement fund. The State Boat Act allows a portion for pumpout funding and maintenance. The fund predates CVA. When CVA came in they started using it to cover the 25%.

Al O. – Is there a limit on O & M?

Christy (MD) – No limit now on stationary pumpouts. There are limits on pumpout boats.

Kate – Other States can do the 25%. We make grantees pay the 25%, but talk the marinas into offering services for free. They use the administrative burden of keeping track of the fees as levelrage (as in order to get O & M they would have to keep track of all fees).

Lindsay – The 25% in NJ comes from the purchase of license plates.

Kathy – In MN it would be great to offer services for free, but they shouldn’t feel the State has to do it. Maybe we can help with ideas about partnerships.

Don – If helpful to share the history – Back to 1989 they had 100% reimbursement. Even then, the vast majority would not participate. Once CVA passed, it gave more money, but still little participation. Now, the State has a law that requires any marina with 50+ slips to have a pumpout. They went from 30 participating marinas to over 350 marinas. They got support from the Marine Trade Associations. They did a survey for what boaters will pay and $5 was the key amount. This may be where the amount in the regulations came from, not sure. Many marinas said they are grateful for the nudge.

We ended the webinar with many thanks for the lively conversation and active participation.


Submitted by Lisa E. Van Alstyne