Waste and sewage disposal

Protecting our waterways is a shared responsibility. Respect and care for the marine environment by disposing of waste correctly. Here's how.

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General waste

You must not dispose of rubbish or any other waste from your vessel into the water.

You can help protect the marine environment by:

  • collecting all your rubbish on board and disposing of it properly on shore
  • using low-phosphate or no-phosphate soaps and detergents in sinks and showers
  • wiping cooking utensils and plates clean with a paper towel before washing.

Cleaning your vessel

When you wash your vessel, you must do everything you can to protect the environment. Practical steps include:

  • Where possible, use an approved slipway or wash bay with waste containment and wastewater controls.
  • Rinse trailered vessels with fresh water after each trip.
  • When your vessel is moored, remove any slime or growth that's beneath the waterline with a soft cloth, brush or sponge.
  • When cleaning, avoid removing surface coatings – such as antifouling paint – while your vessel is in the water.
  • Minimise use of chemicals or degreasers.
  • Check product labels and use non-toxic, low- or no-phosphate and chlorine-free cleaners.
  • Use highly diluted detergent solutions.
  • Do not let the wastewater run back into the waterway.

Oil and chemicals

You must not discharge oil and chemicals from your vessel into the water.

Make sure you:

  • keep bilges clean to prevent pollutants being discharged
  • refuel small vessels and refill fuel containers on shore, away from the water, avoiding overfilling
  • clean up any oil or fuel spills quickly.

You must report marine oil or chemicals spills to:

  • Transport for NSW (Maritime) on 13 12 36, or
  • Port Authority of NSW on 9296 4999, or
  • NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on 13 15 55.


You must not discharge raw sewage into NSW waterways. For recreational vessels, your options for sewage storage are:

  • an onboard toilet with a holding tank
  • a small portable toilet with a holding tank
  • onshore toilets.

Houseboats must have an onboard toilet with a holding tank.

Raw sewage from a holding tank must be discharged at a pumpout facility or toilet.



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