Smart fueling tips for boaters
So you spill a few ounces of gas into the water when you top off your boat. No big deal, right?
Maybe not if everyone else is more careful. But multiply your relatively small spill by the number of boats in a busy marina and the number of boating days per year, and it can add up to big water quality problems.
“It’s important for us to realize the impact of our combined actions on the condition of our reservoirs,” says TVA’s Melinda Watson, Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Coordinator. “Small impacts add up. But so do small improvement efforts. If every boater and marina would take just a few simple steps to reduce the possibility of spilling fuel or oil into the water, it would go a long way toward keeping our reservoirs healthy and clean for swimming, fishing, and boating.”
Fueling a boat is different from fueling a car, says Watson. “Dock nozzles tend to pump fuel at a higher speed, and boats with inboard motors typically have larger fuel tanks and overboard vents — all factors that can lead to an unintentional spill at the fuel dock.”
Here are some ways boaters can help keep fuel out of the water.
- Know the capacity of your fuel tank before filling and check to see that your fuel gauge is accurate.
- Fuel slowly to prevent overflows from the air vent.
- Use petroleum-absorbent sheets and doughnuts or bibs that fit over the nozzle to catch accidental overflow, drips, and splash-backs when refueling.
- Stop pumping before your tank is completely full to allow room for the fuel to expand, especially in hot weather.
- Never leave a gas hose unattended while refueling. Automatic shut-off nozzles aren’t always reliable.
- Fuel on land whenever possible, and use a funnel and absorbent pads when filling portable tanks.
- For built-in tanks, consider installing a fuel/air separator in the air vent line to prevent spills or splash back.
Never use soap or detergent to clean up fuel spilled in water. Such products seem to make the fuel disappear, but in reality it just sinks below the water surface, making it very difficult to collect.