by J. Henson — The Capital
Deputy Harbormaster George Ward and West/Rhode
Riverkeeper Bob Gallagher talk aboard the Gerald
W, the city’s old pumpout boat that was
turned over to the riverkeeper program yesterday.
Mr. Gallagher hopes offering on-the-water pumpouts
will keep boaters from dumping their waste in
"This boat is like an old friend who served us well," Deputy
Annapolis Harbormastor George Ward said wistfully, after handing
the keys of the city's Gerald W pumpout boat to a new
After a decade in the city of Annapolis, the Gerald W is
heading south to Shady Side, where West/Rhode Riverkeeper Bob
Gallagher plans to start up an on-the-water pumpout service for
south county boaters.
The city, in turn, has a shiny new replacement, a $146,000,
28-foot aluminum vessel paid for by state grants.
City officials stressed that the aging Gerald W - named
in honor of former state senator Gerald Winegrad - is still a
good boat. But it has taken a beating in Annapolis, pumping more
than 330,000 gallons of waste from Annapolis boaters since 1995.
The new boat has all sorts of bells and whistles: radar, global
positioning, electronic charts, two radios, a 140-horsepower
four-cycle Yanmar diesel engine, 50 feet of hose and a translucent
300-gallon tank that can be off-loaded.
Name the ‘Honeydipper’
West/Rhode Riverkeeper Bob Gallagher
plans to rename his “new” pumpout boat,
formerly known as the Gerald W. He’s planning
a “Name the Honeydipper” contest.
Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
As for the new Annapolis pumpout boat, Harbormaster Ric
Dahlgren isn’t sure whether to adopt the name
Gerald W, or give the boat a new name.
Send those suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Dahlgren promises a free pumpout to the person who
comes up with the best name.
The boat is faster, more fuel efficient and can go into shallower
waters because it has no propeller. It is equipped with law enforcement
lights and is made of sturdy aluminum.
"She's built for hard seas and rough waters. She's a great multipurpose
boat," Mr. Ward said yesterday at City Dock, where both boats
were on display.
The old boat was named for Mr. Winegrad in 1995. He helped push
for the law that requires pumpouts at marinas and he helped arrange
for the original pumpout boat to be donated to the city.
Though he hadn't heard of the new mission for his namesake boat,
Mr. Winegrad said he didn't mind. He's just glad it's still keeping
human waste out of the Chesapeake Bay.
As unpleasant as it may seem, boaters who dump their waste overboard
instead of pumping it out are causing pollution to the bay.
"It's one of the things in trying to restore the bay - you have
to look at every source," Mr. Winegrad said.
Mr. Ward said he hopes the new boat will attract more business
For $5, a harbormaster's employee will head out to a boat in
the water and offload the boat's treated human waste, called "blackwater," into
the pumpout boat's tank. When the pumpout boat fills up, it's
taken to a discharge point on land and sent into the sewage treatment
system. The whole procedure takes only five minutes.
On-the-water pumpouts aren't the only way for boaters to get
rid of their waste.
Most marinas are required to have pumpout facilities, but sometimes
they aren't working or the marinas are overburdened, Mr. Gallagher
And when boaters can't find a pumpout service - or when they
can't be bothered to do the right thing - they may end up dumping
their load into the water and roiling the water with nutrients
"There's a lot of untreated waste that goes overboard," Mr.
He said researchers at the Smithsonian Environmental Research
Center in Edgewater studied the West and Rhode rivers and found
that after busy boating weekends, bacteria and pollution in the
He also did an informal survey and estimated that 2,500 to 3,000
boats with head facilities use the south county rivers on most
summer weekends. The dozen marinas that offer pumpout service
complete about 1,500 pumpouts in a given year - a number that
Mr. Gallagher said is way too low.
Those two pieces of evidence lead him to believe that waste
is being dumped in the river by boaters.
He hopes to get grant money to hire someone to operate the pumpout
boat starting next summer. The pumpout boat's schedule will be
based on the demand.
"Boaters want clean water and the overboard discharge is interfering
with that," he said.