State Clean Marina Programs Report on Certifications and Funding

Marina Dock Age magazine conducted its annual survey of Clean Marina program directors during the months of March and April. Clean Marina is a voluntary program for marinas to adopt best management practices for keeping their facilities safe and environmentally sound. While the programs ensure marinas are complying with relevant regulatory requirements, Clean Marina directors and staff do not enforce regulations or report violators, but rather operators on what the requirements are and how to meet them. The program began in coastal states with support from the Coastal Zone Management Program and Sea Grant; however, inland states have continued to adopt Clean Marina growing the number of participating states.

The Numbers
While 2017 was not a particularly active year for any one program, together the states have held steady on the number of certified Clean Marinas across the country. Since many of the programs have been in existence for 10 years or more, the focus has turned to recertification, as opposed to new certifications. The overall numbers do not reflect the numbers of re-certifications done by programs each year. States that had drops in the overall number of certified marinas indicate programs that lag on re-certifications.

“We began to recertify marinas whose certification “expired” since losing funding from the state. To date, only 39 marinas have been recertified,” said Kim Shrum of Texas. 

In 2017, 47 new marinas were certified, which is just slightly down from the 59 new marinas that were certified in 2016. Overall, respondents had a goal of certifying 169 marinas and 10 boatyards in 2018. 

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Education Only
Some states continue to work toward educating marinas and boaters on clean practices, but do not formally certify facilities. Vermont, Massachusetts and New York work on education programs. “Massachusetts provides technical assistance and education to marinas and boatyards on an as needed basis. No certification program, no direct funding,” said Robin Lacey, Clean Marina specialist with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
The past several years the Maine Clean Marina has focused on education only due to funding and staffing cuts, but the new director of Maine Marine Trades, Stacy Kiefer said, “I’m looking to revitalize the program. It’s been a little stagnant for awhile and had no changes for a couple years.”

Funding continues to be a challenge for Clean Marina programs with revenues from a variety of sources. Partnerships are what keep many of the Clean Marinas funded and staffed. Twenty-six of the survey respondents have a trade association as a partner. Other partners include state agencies at 33 percent and state Sea Grant programs account for 31 percent of partnerships. States have also had assistance from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Power Squadron, counties, cities, and other non-profit organizations with an environmental focus. 

Outside of partners, grants are a main source of money. The Minnesota program is hoping to receive a three-year grant from the state; Wisconsin funds have come from two mini-grants from the Wisconsin Marine Association and a subsidy from the Wisconsin Coastal Management program. Vermont’s Clean Marina program is a component of the Vermont Green Business Program and is funded through Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pollution Prevention grants and state funds. Washington monies come from the National Estuary Program through the Washington Department of Health.

Some states have found other revenue streams as well. Oregon receives a small percentage of its funds from boat registration fees. Missouri, California and Wisconsin rely on fees that marinas pay to certify or recertify. Mary Kuhn who oversees the California program said, “the Clean Marina Program relies on (fees from) certifications and recertifications of marinas and boatyards. We have just recently started offering sponsorships to industry leaders and have just secured our first sponsorship.”

The Connecticut Marine Trades Association (CMTA) administers the Clean Marina program entirely. It took over the project in 2016. “There is no state support. We have entirely funded the effort, and each marina and boatyard must have a PE certify their work. It’s growing slowly as we re-certifiy the 30 or so marinas who had obtained Clean Marina status years ago,” said Kathleen Burns, the executive director of CMTA, which has taken over the Clean Marina program from the state. 

The Texas Clean Marina program also used to be funded through the state. Kim Shrum, executive director of Marine Association of Texas (MAT) said, “The program was previously funded through the state, but since funding and staff time is no longer available, the association (MAT) is trying to rebuild the program without funding.”

What’s New
While some programs are working to just stay afloat in the face of increasing budget and staffing challenges, others are finding means to grow and expand.
Oregon is down to just one part-time position, so the focus has narrowed to conducting site visits for re-certification and getting newsletters out to participants, as means to hold on to existing certified marinas. New Jersey is in the process of surveying why marinas have been reluctant to pursue the certification, and the direction of the program will be decided based on the survey results.

Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina are all looking at incorporating resiliency and/or marine debris into existing programs to expand the reach of what they do and attract more participants.
To gain more interest some programs are going to marinas directly with hands-on workshops. Following Minnesota’s workshop five of the eight attendees signed pledges to become certified.

The Ohio Clean Marina program has also been busy reaching out directly to potential participants. “We received a grant to conduct workshops across the state on stormwater/wastewater BMPs for marinas. We will be holding hands-on training for power washing, stormwater, and other water quality BMPs, including testing water quality at the marina,” Sarah Orlando, Ohio Sea Grant Extension educator said. Ohio also will continue its professional development with an annual Clean Marina conference and awards ceremony.

Florida’s program has undergone a full change, as Clean Marina has joined the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Florida Coastal Office and is therefore reorganizing under a new division. Continuing previous efforts, Florida also recognizes resiliency. “Florida designated facilities as Clean and Resilient when the facility has resilient features, including exemplary emergency planning, training and management, fortified structures, safe harbor and other physical protections and more,” said Brenda Leonard, program administrator at Florida DEP.

Through a mini-grant from the Great Lakes Clean Marina Network, Michigan developed a pilot workshop to educate new pledges about Clean Marina and have them go through the required online Clean Marina Classroom and certification process. The Michigan Coastal Zone Management program funded two Clean Marina Classroom Live workshops and funds from the Michigan Clean Marina Foundation (MCMF) will allow for one additional workshop in the spring. As one of the most well-funded programs, Michigan has enough staff to undertake new initiatives and revamp existing programs.
“We are revising our online classroom, certification checklists, website and putting together a broad program questionnaire to be sent to hundreds of marinas in Michigan. Also hoping to work on creating a new strategic plan,” Erin De Vries, program coordinator with Michigan Sea Grant said.

Standout Marinas
Each year Marina Dock Age asks the Clean Marina directors to highlight any marinas that are going above and beyond to be stewards of the environment. Examples shared this year include:

Lynnhaven Marine Boatel in Virginia Beach, in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Quality, has upgraded its stormwater management system to be above and beyond compliance standards.

Stark County Park marinas in Ohio have adopted compostable, eco-friendly packaging at all of its snack shops and restaurants to reduce marine debris.

Mentor Lagoons Marina in Ohio has implemented several green infrastructure practices including rain barrels and maintaining fields of native grass for wildlife habitat and geese management.

Sunset Marina in Washington has installed a water testing station to develop baseline data for fecal coliform and other water quality contamination in its basin.

Other unique practices include an oil can crusher, curb cuts in parking lot that lead to a vegetated space before storm drain containment, downspouts disconnected, mobile boat washing stations, shade trees at slips, and mulching the shoreline to reduce erosion.

Clean Marina, perhaps despite the odds, remains a key part of the marina industry emphasizing that clean water and environmental stewardship remain goals of marinas across the country. The concrete rewards for certification are few, with some insurance and product discounts, however having boaters and regulators recognize a facility for going above and beyond to protect the environment is a reward worth the effort.