Ocean County now has the largest fleet of specially-equipped pumpout boats for emptying the toilets and tanks of pleasure boats on the Barnegat Bay, according to Freeholder Director Joe Vicari.

Photo courtesy of Donna Flynn, Ocean County Public Information Director

The award-winning program, now in its 17th year, just got a boost with the addition of a sixth pumpout boat named "The Bay Defender." The new 23-foot-boat has a 420 gallon holding tank and was recently unveiled at the Mantoloking Bridge County Park in Brick Township, the area the vessel will cover.

Vicari said over the years the pumpout program has prevented more than one million gallons of waste water from being dumped in the bay. "We have two in the Brick Township area, two in the Seaside Park area and two in the Tuckerton area. That takes care of the entire Barnegat Bay" Vicari said.

Vicari noted the purpose of the program is two-fold. "The boat captains do two things: one is they maintain to make sure all of the waste water is taken out of boats free of charge. But, they also make sure the channels are clean and safe."  Vicari added the county wants to make sure there is no debris left over from super storm Sandy 19 months ago.

Pointing out the Barnegat Bay represents $4.3 billion a year in tourism revenue in Ocean County alone, Vicari said, "We want this program to spread throughout not only Ocean County and the state of New Jersey, but throughout the United States to maintain our waterways are clear."

The free pumpout boat service operates from Memorial Day Weekend through the end of September, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays through Mondays. Boaters can use VHF Radio Channel 9.