The Head of the Harbor’s (Boat) mission is to provide a free holding tank discharge service to commercial vessels operating in the Boston Harbor No-Discharge Area (NDA). To qualify for this service, a ship must meet the United States Coast Guard definition of a documented vessel engaged in commercial service, and be able to provide proof in the form of official USCG documentation, flagged registry, or equivalent.
Effective July 2008, Boston Harbor was officially designated a No-Discharge Area (NDA) by the Environmental Protection Agency, making the disposal of treated or untreated wastein the harbor’s waters illegal. We at Marine Operations are pleased to inform you of a new mobile pump-out service being offered by the City of Boston Environment Department in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston for commercial marine operators only.
The 31-foot boat Head of the Harbor will now be available for pump-out service from May through October during normal business hours.
To request service, click here, then fill out the form and hit Submit; one-time and recurring scheduled service is available.
The pump-out boat Head of the Harbor engages in the following types of operations:
On-call Requests for Service: Head of the Harbor responds to reasonable requests for commercial boat sewage pump-out services.
Education and Research: The Division of Marine Operations aims to provide UMass Boston EEOS undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to participate in the Green Boston Harbor Project, developing their individual activities and thesis/dissertation project topics by integrating educational, research, and outreach components that support the NDA in Boston Harbor.
Harbor Site Visits and Outreach: Head of the Harbor makes scheduled visits to marinas, yacht clubs, boatyards, commercial piers, public beaches, and other such sites, as well as special events, around Boston Harbor to meet with boat owners and operators and to distribute water-quality, NDA, and other educational materials as approved by the City of Boston Environment Department.
Policies and Protocols
- The Boat’s normal business hours/days of service are 8:00-4:00 Monday-Friday.
To be provided with discharge service from the Boat, commercial vessels need not be home ported in Boston Harbor. They may be moored, visiting, or operating within the defined boundary of the Boston Harbor NDA.
- To receive the best possible service, vessels that qualify for discharge should have standard NPT fittings or, at a minimum, proper adaptors for 150-sized hose equipment. The Boat carries a variety of fittings; specialized fittings and/or adaptors should be procured by the vessel captain. If a proper hose connection cannot be made, the captain of the Boat may elect to deny service.
Information from the qualifying vessel will be collected either through the online form or onsite at the time of service. This information will be recorded, and possibly shared, for business purposes only.
- Vessels that need pump-out service should schedule it in advance via an online request form (http://www.umb.edu/marineops/pumpoutrequest). Those without Internet access may instead call the Boat phone at 617-756-9861; calls will be returned in the order they were received during normal business hours.
At the time of service, the captain of the commercial vessel, or a responsible designee, must be present. Boarding is done at the discretion of the Boat crew. The Boat crew will not board an unmanned vessel without explicit permission.
- A requesting commercial vessel must have a legal and properly working head, holding tanks, pumps, and plumbing. The crew of the Boat will not engage in maintenance and/or upkeep of another vessel’s waste or discharge system.
Any other vessel (recreational, fleet, houseboat, etc.) that receives discharge service by the Boat does so at the discretion and courtesy of the Boat crew. This service shall not be deemed a precedent for future or continued service.