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Guest Editorial: Liveaboards at the Marina

Dear Leschi neighbors,

What happens to the human waste/sewerage in the larger vessels berthed at the Leschi marinas?

Last month, City Council’s Parks Committee was considering a proposal for a 20-year lease of the Leschi marinas to a private firm, Marine Management (associated with Foss Marine). At the July 6 Committee meeting, it came out that there are four liveaboard boats at the Leschi public moorage.

One of the Council Members asked the representatives of the Parks Department how sewage is disposed for the liveaboard vessels. The management representatives of the Parks Department could not answer the question. It turns out nobody knows, except for the individual boat owners, because pumping out the storage tanks is on the honor system.

The State of Washington thinks that human waste from watercraft is a problem and the State provides free pump-out services, but the nearest pump-out station is at Yarrow Bay, Kirkland. Recently, the State subsidized a mobile service, but this service requires registration on a website. There is no monitoring.

The problem is worse because there are increasingly larger vessels at the marinas—cabin cruisers and luxury speedboats. These boats are places of overnight use and drinking parties—the larger vessels are more likely to have boat owners who are not careful about sanitary disposal.

Seattle/King County tests water quality at the public beaches on a weekly basis, but not at the Leschi moorages, where there is significant swimming, wading, paddle boarding, kayak launching, etc. The City/Parks Department really doesn’t know whether the waters around the marinas are safe for swimming.

I have written to the Superintendent about this problem, but thus far, the City is relying on “No Diving” signs and cruise-bys by the Police Boats. Problem is this doesn’t work. This weekend there were many people in the water. Instead of diving, people climb down the ladders at the piers. Although police boats patrolled the area, there was no interference by police.

Personally, I think that public health should not be ignored, and better testing of water quality and monitoring of waste disposal are necessary. What are your thoughts?

~John Barber

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