Boating Clean & Green

county of san diego watershed protection program


Recycle fishing tackle

Boating Clean & Green

As boaters, we love being out on the water! But along with that comes the responsibility of safely operating and maintaining our boats to ensure they don’t cause environmental harm to our waterways, ocean, and beaches.

If pollutants from operating and maintaining a boat such as oil and fuel, cleaning detergents, and trash enter our waters they can have an adverse effect on aquatic life, water quality, and even human health. To ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience, it’s important to follow these clean and green boating practices:

  •   Prevent Oil and Fuel Spills– Oil and fuel contain harmful components which can affect human health and severely damage our aquatic environment, even in very small quantities. Prevent oil spills by practicing preventive engine maintenance through regular inspections and by repairing small leaks that may drip oil. Control oily discharges by using oil absorbents. For more tips on preventing oil and fuel pollution, check out the California Division of Boating and Waterways Boating Clean & Green oil pollution prevention video  and spill-proof fuel practices webpage.
  • Use safer alternatives for cleaning and maintenance – Many boat cleaning and maintenance products contain chemicals that are harmful to our waterways. Read labels on cleaning products and look for signal words, such as “danger/poison,” or “warning/caution” to give you a general indication of the toxicity of a product. Use safer alternatives whenever possible. If you need to use chemical cleaning products, use only the amount you need and be sure to properly handle and store materials. Copper anti-fouling paint is harmful to water bodies, use non-copper alternatives instead.
  • Properly dispose of hazardous boating waste – Boat cleaning and maintenance products such as antifreeze, batteries, and used oil and oil filters are considered hazardous waste. Properly dispose of hazardous waste at a household hazardous waste (HHW) disposal facility. To find one near you, check San Diego County’s HHW Collection Center locations, ask your local marina, call (800) CLEANUP, or review the Cal Recycle HHW directory.
  • Keep boat sewage and gray water out of the water – if human waste from boats enters the water it can create problems, as well as affect drinking water quality and recreational activities. Gray water from boats is more harmful than gray water generated at home because it does not get treated in a sanitary sewer before being discharged overboard. Follow these tips to keep sewage and gray water out of the water. And when handling sewage, remember to Dump at the Pump!
  • Reduce trash –  Trash and lost fishing gear are harmful to wildlife and the quality of recreation, and pose serious threats to safety in our waterways. Properly stash all trash onboard in containers to prevent it from being blown overboard. Bring all trash back to shore for proper disposal. Find ways to reduce the amount of garbage you create while aboard your boat such as removing product packaging at home. Fishing lines can entangle and kill wildlife and cause boat damage. It's not biodegradable and can remain in the environment for over 600 years. Take used fishing line back to recycling bins at your marina or tackle shop.

While on shore, we as beachgoers and residents of San Diego County, also play a key role in protecting our waterways, lakes, lagoons, bays, and beaches by picking up trash when we see it, and by reporting pollution.

The County thanks its boaters, beachgoers, and residents alike, for all you do to protect the health, safety, and recreational enjoyment of our waterways and beaches!

Boats in the San Diego Bay


Find My District


Report Stormwater Pollution
Report observed pollution to the correct jurisdiction.

Citizen Access Portal
Research property information and permits. Apply for some permits online.

GIS Maps
Find property information including zoning designation with our web-based mapping tool. 

Watershed Protection Website




Learn more about available water quality rebates that you could apply to your property!

New Project Clean Water

Project Clean Water efforts are focused on providing a centralized point of access to water quality information and resources for San Diego County Watersheds. Click HERE to visit Project Clean Water’s website. 

To learn more about the County of San Diego - Watershed Protection Program, please visit