Hempstead Town is turning a dirty job over to boaters.
The town has reduced its service that sends a sewage pump-out boat to individual boaters to pump their waste at no charge.
The service, in place for decades, was eliminated at marinas in Woodmere and Lawrence. Rather than serving individual boats on demand, boaters now are instructed to meet up with a town pump-out boat waiting at buoys in the water during designated times.
Boaters also have the option of going to three free town pump stations at marinas or going to seven other pump stations operated by either Nassau County or private marinas, which may charge a fee.
The town’s pump-out boat still serves individual boats in Zachs Bay near Jones Beach for one hour a day.
Town Supervisor Anthony Santino said the town cut back on the service to save at least $15,000 a year on boat maintenance and gas. The town also has reduced the payroll hours devoted to manning a full-service pump-out boat.
Officials said it’s important to maintain some service to avoid boaters dumping their sewage directly in the water.
“The service is still there,” Santino said during last month’s town board meeting. “It’s just not provided for personnel and budgetary constraints, from going to spot to spot.”
The rescinded service has struck a foul tone with local boaters who say they relied on the service in order to stay on the water and empty their waste tanks.
Some boaters said the town’s new buoy system is unsafe for boaters to hook up to the town’s pump-out boat. They said it also puts an added expense on boaters who either have to travel to the buoys or to the marina pump-out stations.
Richard Arnone with the Keystone Yacht Club in Woodmere asked the town to restore the service, even with a fee.
“Unfortunately, I consider it an unsafe situation,” Arnone told board members last month. “This is a small boat tied to [a] buoy. The only thing I see is an outboard motor in front of me.”
Arnone said it would cost him $100 in fuel to travel to a docked pump station to empty his waste tank.
Santino said the new policy puts an extra onus on boat owners, who now have to travel to empty their tanks. But he said it is the responsibility of boaters to absorb that cost, not taxpayers.
He said the town could explore charging boaters, but it would have to cover the total expense of expanding services.
“The cost of providing the service would be considerable,” Santino said. “Money comes from somewhere and it comes from the taxpayers. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, someone who can afford a very nice recreational activity, to take their boat to a pump-out station rather than have taxpayers like senior citizens defray the cost.”
Hempstead pump-out boat service
From 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Sept. 10 at buoys at:
Bannister Creek and Woodmere/Broseware Bay. On patrol in Zach’s Bay on those same days from 1:40 to 2:40 p.m.
Free Hempstead pump stations
Inwood Marina, Guy Lombardo Marina in Freeport and Angie M. Cullin East Marina in Point Lookout.