photo of two people in a kayak

Washington Waters  Ours to Protect

recreational boating What you can do...

Fueling recreational boats

Don’t leave a sheen.
Prevent drips, spills and overfills.

If you’re a boater, you can help keep our waters clean every time you fuel up. You can make sure fuel goes only in your tank, and not in the water.

Bonus points!

Properly fueling your boat also helps you:
  • Keep from having to pay a fine — $250 or more.
  • Make our waters more pleasant places to play.
  • Support a healthy watershed.

Many boaters may not be aware they’ve spilled fuel.

Unless you take precautions, drips can end up in the water when fuel back-splashes out of the tank, when it discharges out of the vent from over-filling or expansion, or when it drips off the nozzle.

Even a small amount of spilled fuel can disperse and cause an oil sheen to spread out over a large area of water. Small spills add up to big problems as they accumulate. And after the sheen is gone, the persistence of fuel in the water continues to threaten our aquatic environment. It can kill fish and other aquatic life, and can cause long-term damage to the surrounding habitat.

Fueling your boat doesn’t have to be a problem.

What will you do to help?

  • Know how much fuel your tanks hold. Fill only to 90% capacity to leave room for expansion, especially during warm weather. Don’t top off your tanks.
  • Hold the nozzle when refueling — don’t use a hands-free clip.
  • Use an absorbent pad or fuel collar device around the nozzle to catch drips before they spill into the water.
  • Watch and listen for cues that your tank is nearing capacity. Stop before any fuel can escape from your tank vents. Have an absorbent pad ready to catch any fuel that escapes.
  • Wipe up all spills and drips on deck and dispose of absorbent pads properly.
  • Report all spills into the water to the U.S. Coast Guard and Washington’s Emergency Management Division — it’s the law. To report spills, call 800-OILS-911.

When you fuel your boat, remember
you may not just be fueling your boat.

 get the Washington Waters logo


It's officially boating season! Keep it clean.


Protecting Washington’s Waters from Stormwater Pollution

Working for Washington's Future: Healthy Watersheds, Healthy People