Ocean County's fleet of pumpout boats, which can be used by boaters free of charge on weekends all summer, has expanded.
Plans were announced earlier this year to purchase a sixth pumpout boat, and the county delivered in time for Memorial Day weekend. Then newest boat is being operated by Brick Township, officials said, and is named the Bay Defender. The 23 foot-long boat has a 420 gallon tank that collects wastewater from the heads of private vessles in an effort to ensure local waterways stay clean.
Ocean County will be reimbursed for the purchase of the new boat by the state Department of Environmental Protection through the Clean Vessel Act program. The costs to operate all the boats are split between the county and the Ocean County Utilities Authority, which allows the pumpout service to be free for boaters.
The Bay Defender will patrol the northern sector of the bay along with the Bay Saver. Two other boats operate in central Barnegat Bay and two boats patrol Little Egg Harbor.
The boats operate Memorial Day weekend through October each year, including major holidays like July 4th, and have steadily expanded their operations. Last year almost 129,000 gallons of wastewater was removed from recreational boats, county officials said. This year will be the 17th boating season that the county is running the pumpout program.
"We encourage all of our boaters who are out enjoying the bay and our rivers to use this free service and stop waste water pollutants from entering our waterways," said Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari, in a statement.
The pumpout boats can be accessed by contacting the captains on VHF Radio Channel 9, according to county officials.