Boaters Best Practice Sewage

Best Practice Advice


  • Use marina/shore facilities whenever possible
  • Use environmentally friendly toilet cleaners on board
  • Educate crew on the products you use and procedures to follow
  • Use recycled toilet paper as this breaks down more quickly than regular paper
  • Use your holding tank
  • Check out the Pump Out Directory for where to empty your holding tank
  • Encourage your local marina/harbour authority to install pump out facilities and find out how to use them

Coastal specific advice

  • Use holding tanks or a portable toilet if you regularly sail in poor tidal flushing areas such as estuaries, inland waterways, inlets and crowded anchorages
  • Only empty holding tanks at pump out stations or when more than 3 miles offshore in the open sea where waste will be quickly diluted and dispersed by wave action and currents
  • When visiting new sites give consideration to the environmental sensitivity of the area before using your sea toilet
  • Fit a holding tank in your boat, it is law to have one in some European countries

Inland specific advice

  • Find out the regulations of the waterways you are visiting.
  • When using chemical toilets plan ahead where you will empty them as they use toxic substances that only a few pump out facilities will accept. Never empty own a drain, always dispose of into an appropriate sewage system.

Find out more

Leaflets and Resources