Water Quality photo identifier

Water Quality Program

Fueling and Bilge Care

close-up photo of fuel nozzle in use

Small spills from inattentive or irresponsible fueling can permanently harm our waters and degrade the enjoyment and productivity of recreational and commercial boating.

Fueling with an absorbent “donut” pad as shown above helps keep drips out of the water.

  • Shut off all engines during fueling.
  • Know the capacity of your fuel tanks and avoid overflows. Fill your tank to 90-percent capacity only. Leave room for the fuel to expand.
  • Fill your tank slowly to prevent overflows. Do not overfill or top off your fuel tank. Use oil absorbents or other devices to catch drips.
  • Do not let fuel escape into the water from the tank vents.
  • Fill your boat’s tank on land whenever possible.
  • Use funnels to fill portable tanks and oil absorbents to catch drips.

Bilge Care

  • Keep all oily bilge water out of the water.
  • Use oil absorbents to clean oil bilges.
  • For a large oily mess in the bilge, use a steam cleaning service.
  • Keep bilges dry and oil free.
  • Place an oil absorbent pad or pillow in your vessel bilge.
  • Periodically check your boat’s bilge for oil leaks and accumulation of water.
  • Shut off bilge pump while refueling.
  • Do not pump contaminated bilge water overboard; use approved shore-side facilities or an approved mobile pump-out service.
Report all spills to 800-OILS-911 and 800-424-8802