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Federal grant helps keep lakes water clean
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A federal grant is helping a local marina make life easier for its clients and also improving the quality of Lake Lanier, one wastewater tank at a time.

Port Royale Marina and Lakeside Community in Gainesville was the only Georgia recipient of a Clean Vessel Act grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The grant supports construction in areas in which the economy is dependant on recreational boating.

“In a time of economic uncertainty, these grants also provide an immediate investment in construction jobs and infrastructure that provide lasting value for recreational boaters, state agencies and local communities,” said Rowan Gould, Fish and Wildlife Service acting director.

More than $12 million in grant funding will be divided among 31 recipients in 21 states.

The Lake Lanier marina will use its $71,000 in grant funding to purchase a sewage pump-out boat.

The system will allow marina employees to go to individual boats and pump out wastewater tanks, instead of boat owners doing it themselves at an on-site pump-out dock.

“This is faster and more convenient for our clients,” said Brent Pearson, marina operations manager.

“Since our employees will be pumping out the tanks, it’s more controlled so there won’t be (wastewater) dripping into the lake.”

Although waste removal has come a long way since the days of boaters releasing it directly into the lake, Pearson says the pump-out boat will make removal even more environmentally sound. The boat also will help marina personnel respond faster to emergencies, Pearson said.

“Say a boat is anchored out on the lake for the weekend and (their wastewater tank) fills up. Instead of unanchoring and heading to the dock pump out, we go out to them,” Pearson said.

“And if a tank on a houseboat is broken, we can get it cleaned up real fast. There are a lot of uses — the pump-out boat has the capacity to hold around 1,000 gallons, so we can use it to pump out a sinking boat, too, if need be.”

Additionally, the pump-out boat will give boaters the ability to enjoy the lake more during colder weather.

According to Pearson, the marina’s dock pump has to be winterized when the temperatures reach freezing, making it unusable, but the pump-out boat can be used all year long.

Port Royale received the grant after submitting an application to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which will administer the funds to the marina.