Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that this blog will answer most of the questions you have for the EHCP. Here, we have summarized the most frequently asked questions from the boating community posed in surveys and during town meetings. If you still have a question, please do not hesitate to email us! elizabethharbourpartnership@gmail.com

Why pumpout?

Sewage from boats contains disease-causing microorganisms and nutrients that are harmful to human health and the marine environment. The crystal clear waters of The Bahamas are very low in nutrients, so even small increases in nutrient levels can have a big impact by causing algal blooms that decrease the light needed by seagrasses and corals. Reduced oxygen levels in the water caused by the additional demand by microorganisms found in boat sewage can negatively impact fish, and other organisms. Besides the human diseases transmitted in waters polluted by sewage like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis, coral disease has been linked to bacteria found in the human digestive system and disease outbreaks are intensified by elevated nutrient levels.

Why use a mooring?

Although most people are careful to anchor away from coral reefs and seagrass beds, accidents do happen. Anchor setting, anchor dragging, and chain dragging in high-use anchorages is a problem in Elizabeth Harbour and can destroy seagrass beds over time. Once uprooted, seagrass can take up to 7 years to recover.  In areas where water clarity is diminished by algal blooms or sedimentation, restoration can be very slow. Moorings provide an alternative to anchoring and greatly reduce the impact to seagrass in the area that is vital habitat for turtles, conch, and many juvenile fish species.

Is pumping out required by law in Elizabeth Harbour?

It is illegal to dump sewage in the coastal waters of The Bahamas. Although, there is no specific law applicable to boat sewage discharge, the Environmental Health Services Act (Chapter 232) clearly states that direct discharge is an illegal activity and persons guilty of an offence may be fined up to $1000.00. Therefore, while in Elizabeth Harbour, you are required to use your holding tank. If you do not want to leave the harbour and travel offshore to pumpout, the pumpout service is a convenient way to empty your holding tank without breaking the law and harming the environment.

Where does the boat sewage go after it is pumped out?

The pumpout operator takes the boat sewage to a lift station located at the old Navy Base in Elizabeth Harbour. The waste is pumped to a wastewater treatment plant on the other side of the Queen’s Highway, which was constructed specifically to treat blackwater from boats.  The treatment facility is designed to not only remove bacteria, but nutrients as well, before the effluent is pumped into a deepwater well.

Have any scientific studies of water quality or ecology in Elizabeth Harbour been conducted, and was this information used by the EHCP in their decision-making processes?

The EHCP did consult scientists and refer to studies that have been conducted in Elizabeth Harbour to inform the decision-making process.  One article referenced by the committee, “Tourism and Water Quality in Elizabeth Harbour”, was published in The Bahamas Journal of Science by Dr. Kathleen Sullivan-Sealey in May 2000. This article reports the results of a multi-year ecological and water quality assessment (70 stations) of Elizabeth Harbour. Nitrogen levels and other water quality parameters were measured.


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