At the September county commission meeting, officials announced several updates to the temporary mobile pump-out program, including much-needed service in the Upper Keys, Key West and Stock Island.
Mobile vessel pump-out service has been unavailable in the county since July 1, when the county’s contract with the previous pump-out service vendor, Pumpouts USA, expired. The commissioners voted in June to not to renew that service and to instead seek bids for a new Keyswide mobile vessel sewage pump-out service.
“The purpose of the service is to make it easy for boaters to follow the laws that require no discharge of sewage from boats in federally designated marine sanctuary waters,” county spokeswoman Kristen Livengood has said.
To that end, the county announced two temporary services as a stopgap measure until a permanent service can be contracted and implemented throughout the county’s waters.
“Everyone knows the vendor we had finished June 30 of this year, and even before this year, we had started talking with the City of Key West to see if they’d temporarily assume mobile pump-out duties around anchorages they currently manage,” explained Assistant County Administrator Christine Hurley. “They were super receptive to the idea, and it’s well underway.”
The county hired two county pump-out workers to ride along on the City of Key West pumpout boats to help with the expanded free service to boats that have registered with the county in the Key West and Stock Island anchorage areas. It’s been hugely popular, Hurley said.
“When we drafted (the temporary service contract), we had 40 registrants,” Hurley said. “In a week, that’s doubled to 80, and we have an interlocal agreement with them (the City of Key West) in place to continue that service through January.”
An unsolicited proposal from a newly formed company, “On the Hook Marine Services,” could provide the same free services to anchored vessels in the Upper Keys registered with the county as early as October. The vendor has already been approved by the county commission at a prior meeting, Hurley said.
We’re working with the vendor to get them up and running for the Upper Keys, through January 2021,” Hurley told the commissioners.
Hurley noted the importance of the temporary services as a way to provide these critical pump-outs while the county thoroughly vets any proposals received for long-term pump-out services to vessels anchored throughout the Florida Keys. As currently structured, vendors can opt to service part or all of the county.
Liveaboard boaters in the Wisteria Island, Fleming Key, Seaplane Basin, Cow Key Channel, and Boca Chica Basin anchorages who are interested in receiving this free service can register at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/pumpout or they can fill out a registration form available at the Garrison Bight or Key West Bight marina offices in Key West. More information regarding the Upper Keys service will be available within the next week at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/pumpout.
All boaters are reminded that sewage discharge is prohibited within the boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Participation in the Monroe County Mobile Vessel Pump-out Service assists anchored boaters comply with the no-discharge regulation and the Monroe County Proof of Pump-out requirement. Several shoreside pump-out stations are also available throughout Monroe County. A list of available facilities can also be found at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/pumpout.