Protecting the environment while enjoying time on the water is a responsibility all boaters share. Follow these tips and suggestions to help keep the rivers, streams, lakes and oceans clean.

1. Maintaining a well-tuned engine is one way to avoid the fuel and oil leaks that can cause significant environmental damage. The bilge is a common location for leaks and absorbent pads placed in that area can help to minimize any oil spillage.

2. Take care when changing the oil by using a spill proof container. Oil change pumps also make this exchange go smoothly and cleanly. Cover the oil filter with plastic to help keep the bilge oil free.

3. Go slow when fueling. Do not fill the tank to capacity, because fuel expands as the temperature rises. Have rags available to catch spills and report even a minor spill to the fuel provider or marina operator.

4. If you do spill fuel or oil, don't add soap, especially dish soap. It causes the oil to vanish but separates it into smaller particles, making the spill even more difficult to clean up and damaging any plant life or marine life in the area. Again, notify the proper authorities for even a minor spill.

5. If possible, perform all maintenance on your boat when it is out of the water. Clean your boat with water pressure and biodegradable soap. If you must clean the boat in the water use tarps and sanders to collect the debris.

6. Silicon or teflon-based or other non-toxic, low-toxic paints are more environmentally safe than soft sloughing paints. Do not use abrasive products to clean the hull. The safest, most economical method for protecting your boat is to store it out of the water.

7. Any antifreeze, batteries, cleaning products, filters, oils, paints or solvents should be removed and thrown away at any location that takes hazardous waste products. 

8. Sewage should never be dumped in the water. It's illegal in the United States and Canada to dump sewage within three miles of the shore. Toilets installed on boats must meet federal regulations. If your boat doesn't have a permanent toilet, use a port-a-potty and then empty the port-a-potty on shore at a bathroom or suitable location. 

9. Contain your trash while boating, storing it in proper receptacles such as waste bins and bags. Cigarette butts, fishing line, food wrappers such as paper and plastic are all harmful, even fatal to marine life. Littering is a crime, punishable by law.

10. Wait until you reach the shore to wash your dishes, take a shower or perform any other duties that require water, if possible. Use a biodegradable soap that's free of phosphates           

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