More Information

Activities that Require a Boatyard Permit

A boatyard, as defined for the purposes of this permit, is a service business engaged in construction, repair, and maintenance of small vessels, at least 85% of which are 65 feet or less in length, or revenues from which constitute more than 85% of gross receipts. Boatyards include mobile facilities. Some boatyards may build a limited number of custom boats, usually constructed of fiberglass or aluminum. Boatyard services may include but are not limited to:

Historically, boat repair has been done outdoors on the waterfront. The vessel was supported in a cradle, on barrels, or in a sling while work was done on the hull. Boatyards typically employ one or more of the following methods to remove or return a vessel to the water: marine railway, dry-dock, crane, hoist, ramp, or vertical lift. Permanent moorage facilities are not usually a feature of a boatyard, although a few boatyards do have such facilities.

Some boatyard facilities are endeavoring to change their operations in order to conduct boat repair under cover. Working out of the weather will improve quality control, reduce or eliminate waste discharges, and increase worker safety. If all activities are performed indoors, under cover, with no outside activities or exposure except haul-out, coverage under this permit may not be required.

Those boat repair activities, whether conducted by the vessel's owner or by an agent or contractor hired by the owner, which do not require coverage under this permit include the following:

Boatyard operations often produce wastewater and stormwater that they must dispose of safely. In accordance with the federal Water Pollution Control Act and state Water Pollution Control laws, the Department of Ecology helps to ensure that the disposal of these wastewaters causes no harm to the environment.

Ecology requires facilities that produce the majority of that wastewater to have an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit. NPDES permits contain specific requirements and conditions for permittees to protect rivers and other water bodies that receive wastewater discharges. The total number of boatyards in the State that work on all sizes of ships is approximately 128 as of the third quarter of 2014. Currently, the total number of boatyards covered by the Boatyard General Permit is approximately 70. Those boatyards predominantly handling vessels longer than 65 feet may be required to obtain individual wastewater discharge permits.

Why a General  Permit?

A general permit is like an individual permit except that it applies to a group of facilities that conduct similar processes and produce wastewaters with similar characteristics. Rather than creating and managing a separate permit for each individual facility, Ecology employs a single general permit for all similar facilities. General permits save time and money for both Ecology and the permitted facilities.

Applying the general permit approach to boatyards is appropriate because these facilities use similar manufacturing and refurbishment processes and generate wastewaters with similar characteristics. A general wastewater discharge permit provides a single set of requirements that is fair to the boatyards and that provides adequate environmental protection. Certain eligible individually-permitted boatyards may apply for coverage under the general permit and must then comply with the general permit requirements.

Facilities Eligible for Coverage

A boatyard, as defined for the purposes of this permit, is a service business engaged in the construction, repair, and maintenance of small vessels, at least 85% of which are 65 feet or less in length, or revenues from which constitute more than 85% of gross receipts. Boatyards include mobile facilities. To be eligible for coverage under this permit, a boatyard must:

  1. Discharge stormwater runoff, either directly or indirectly, to a water of the State. Waters of the State may be either surface water or groundwater. Surface waters include all lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, inland waters, salt waters, estuaries, wetlands, stormwater drainage systems, and all other surface waters and water courses within the jurisdiction of the State of Washington. Discharge of stormwater runoff from areas of industrial activity to the ground may occur only through an infiltration pond or basin lined with absorptive media. If an overflow from the pond or basin can flow to surface water, then that discharge is also a discharge to surface water.

    OR
  2. Generate wastewater from a pressure washing process.

Facilities Not Eligible for Coverage

This permit does not provide coverage for ancillary or related industrial or commercial facilities, such as a repair shop for marine engines. Those facilities may qualify for coverage under the Industrial Stormwater General permit, if applicable. This permit also does not cover in-water hull cleaning as conducted by contract divers. Ecology has issued guidelines for this type of work to prevent water pollution.

Facilities that conduct boatyard activities exclusively indoors or provide only the following services do not require coverage under this permit:

The activities which do not require coverage under this permit are often conducted in marinas. Marinas or boat owners conducting boatyard activities may be subject to penalties for discharging pollutants without a permit. In addition, marinas must follow the in-water hull cleaning instructions in the Ecology Divers Advisory. Marinas on aquatic lands leased from the Washington Department of Natural Resources must, in accordance with RCW 90.48.386, maintain and follow a plan of operations that details how all the water pollution control requirements of State law will be met.