Mailport December 2011 Issue

Mailport: December 2011

No Discharge Zone Redux

The Raritan LectraSan  and Air Head composting toilet

The Raritan LectraSan (right) and the Air Head composting toilet (far right, installed on a 22-footer) are two options for treating waste on board.

I was disappointed in your October 2011 editorial on No Discharge Zones (NDZs). You seem to be defending the Raritan LectraSan. The idea that the No Discharge Law will stymie development of effective onboard treatment systems is naive. To remove solids and nutrients from wastewater for a yacht would be outrageously expensive.

You seem to have forgotten your six-month test and recommendation (PS, Nov. 15, 2002) of the Air Head composting toilet (www.Air On your recommendation, we installed an Air Head years ago, and having lived aboard for over a year, I can tell you it is a wonderful alternative to holding tanks.

Bill Suratt
Environmental Engineer
Tartan 30

Just a note about the “No Discharge Zone Illusion” editorial in the October 2011 issue. I have been a tree-hugging environmentalist and avid cruiser all of my adult life, and I agree with the piece 100 percent! NDZs do not discourage the dumping of untreated waste. These prohibitions have been in place for decades. NDZs only discourage the installation of devices like the Raritan LectraSan ( by those who are willing to endure the complexity and expense.


Certainly in some circumstances, like marina basins, and regarding large volumes of waste from shipping or other large commercial vessels, “holding and pumping” are the only reasonable option. For the owners of small cruising boats, however, the discharge of LectraSan-treated waste is a very minor issue.


To discourage their use is to increase illegal dumping of untreated waste, because there is no other option for many transient cruisers, who could otherwise spend huge amounts of time, like an entire day at least once a week, in search of a convenient pumpout station.


Around here, 99 percent of the pollution that leads to low dissolved oxygen in the water and fish kills is from hog farm runoff, fertilized agriculture, golf course, and lawn runoff, as well as the occasional half-million gallon waste treatment “spill” from local municipalities, when their systems become overwhelmed in floods. It is easier to point at boaters.


Mark Johnson
North Carolina

Next: CNG Refill

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