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Some Islip boaters want town to provide more wastewater pump-out services

Edward Pshedesky, commodore of the South Bay Cruising

Edward Pshedesky, commodore of the South Bay Cruising Club, and Joel Becker stand on the dock in front of the Town of Islip's pump-out boat at the East Islip Marina on Sept. 1, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Some boaters in Islip have urgent business with the town.

A group of South Bay Cruising Club members has asked for more service from the town's pump-out boat, saying that the lone vessel's weekend operation is insufficient for the needs of the local boating community.

"The Great South Bay, it's essentially a beautiful lagoon," said Edward Pshedesky, commodore of the cruising club. "Everybody wants to keep it clean."

The Great South Bay -- and all of the Long Island Sound -- has been designated by the state as a no-discharge zone. For vessels equipped with toilet or sink facilities, boaters can only empty the wastewater holding tank at a pump-out station. In addition to the pump-out boat, Islip has four land-based pump-out stations.

In 2007, Islip bought its $135,000 pump-out boat with a federal grant paying for half the cost.

However, some local boaters say they can find themselves on the water, far from that vessel as well as the nearest land-based pump-out facility, with the need to empty their wastewater tank.

Islip allocated $21,200 for the pump-out boat service and staffing this year. In a statement, Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the town will evaluate the pump-out boat's schedule.

"We monitor the performance of the pump-out boat on an ongoing basis. At the end of the season, we will review the program as a whole and make any adjustments that may be necessary," she said. "We will continue to work closely with our residents to see what options and changes may be available."

The limitations of that one vessel are clear to boaters.

"Boaters anchored in the Connetquot have only the options of waiting for the boat to arrive, traveling to a land-based station, or discharging into the bay," cruising club member Joel Becker said in an email.

Club members point out that, for a sailboat, the land-based stations could be hours away.

The town's pump-out boat offers hull-to-hull service for six hours a day on weekends. Pshedesky and Becker have asked the town to offer more hours of service and to buy a second pump-out boat.

"Many boaters continue to empty their holding tanks into the bay when it is not convenient for them to discharge into a facility designed for proper disposal," Becker said in the email, emphasizing that his club's members do not empty their tanks improperly.

Two other towns on the Great South Bay in Suffolk County -- Brookhaven and Babylon -- also have land-based stations that all boaters can use. Brookhaven has two pump-out boats in the bay and two more on the North Shore, according to town spokesman Jack Krieger.

Brookhaven's budget for maintaining and staffing the boats Fridays through Sundays during the summer season is $45,000. Babylon has five land-based stations that cost about $2,500 a year each to maintain, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner. The town does not have a pump-out boat.

The cruising club members say they will work with the town to find solutions and funding for increased service.

"We just want the town board to take the issue seriously," Pshedesky said.

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