BMPs for Washing Boats & Reducing Heavy Metals in Storm Water Run-off

Attention Boatyard and Marina Operators!

Looking for cost effective Best Management Practices (BMPs) to comply with environmental regulations for washing boats and reducing heavy metals in storm water run-off?

Specialty Marine Solutions (SMS) can help! SMS offers a variety of common sense and low cost options such as approved wash water containment systems, copper-free bottom paints, geotextile fabrics and eco-friendly cleaners that will help your business:

  • Satisfy environmental regulations
  • Save money
  • Avoid becoming a waste management facility
  • Avoid hassles of hiring engineers and permitting
  • Avoid tearing up your grounds, costly construction and losing valuable real estate
  • Dramatically reduce heavy metal contaminants in storm water run-off
  • Achieve state certified Clean Boatyard & Marina status

Please contact us at for all inquiries.


SMS Wash Water Containment Systems:

Pressure washing boat bottoms is a necessary task and it is a large component of revenue generated by boatyards to keep businesses in operation. Traditionally, wash water has been simply discharged back to the ground or surface water but according to the US Clean Water Act this is illegal. Federal and State environmental agencies are now actively looking for violators and enforcing the law

Allowing pressure wash water to reach the ground or surface waters without collection and holding system or collection and discharge system without a permit is illegal. Fines for infractions are punitive; recently, "Fairhaven Shipyard Companies, Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $175,000 to resolve violations of the federal Clean Water Act which occurred at two of their facilities in Fairhaven (MA)", July 2, 2012 US Attorney's Office, District of MA.

Fortunately, there is no need for you to risk hefty fines for non-compliance. SMS offers simple and economical systems to help your business become compliant. Unlike expensive collection and treatment systems that cost up to $200K and require permitting, construction, valuable real estate, maintenance, training, etc., SMS can help even small businesses comply with bundle packages starting under $5K! 

SMS Containment System Advantages:

  • Economical - packages start at under $5K
  • No Construction - use existing space, slight grade is all that is needed 
  • No Permitting - portable, in most cases construction permits not required (check with your municipality)
  • Simple Set Up & Break Down - takes about 15 minutes with 2 people
  • Two Styles - truck & trailer drive-through and travel lift designs
  • Custom Sizing - Any size length, standard 12' or 15' widths
  • Durable - heavy duty materials and seams to resist elements; designed to last
  • Berm Features - geotextile ground liner, aluminum reinforced side-walls, rain water release valve, tie-down strapping, tread pads (drive-through design), quick-fix repair kit
  • Accessories - boatyard filtration fabrics, pumps, large storage tanks available
  • Warranty - berms come with a 10 year factory limited warranty on seams
  • Construction - custom built, made in the USA


Please contact us at for all inquiries.


Geotextile Fabrics: 

 SMS offers a range of SmartBottom™ Geotextile Filtration Fabrics that can be used for multiple applications. Versatile and durable, material can be used for filtration, ground liners, and rip-rap erosion control applications. SMS can size and cut fabric to suit your needs. Click here for more information.

Geotextile Uses and Benefits:

  • Filtration - water permeable yet filters particulates down to 150 microns; perfect for storm drains and ditches
  • Ground Liner - protect wash water containment system from sharp ground cover and under boats on the hard to capture sanding dust, paint chips, nails, screws and other debris
  • Rip-Rap Applications - use to reinforce coastal embankments to prevent erosion
  • Custom Sizes - SMS can size and custom cut fabric to suit your needs
Note that geotextile fabric used alone for washing boats is not a legal wash water treatment system.
Wash water must be contained and/or permits acquired. 
Click here for more information on SmartBottom™ Geotextile Filtration Fabrics.

Eco-friendly Bottom Paints To Reduce Heavy Metals:

Environmental authorities are regulating the amount of metals that can can be discharged in Storm Water Run-off Effluent during rain and snow melt events and while boats are used in the water. Elevated levels of heavy metals in waterways can be detrimental to the environment. 

Boat bottom paint is a significant contributor to elevated heavy metals. Traditional bottom paints typically contain well over 50% cuprous oxide by weight. When boats are in service, these metal contaminants leach out of the bottom paint and into surrounding water and sediments. When boats are on the hard during the off-season, heavy metals can be released into the environment during rain events or sanding. 

If heavy metals in your storm water run-off exceed state limits, you must take steps to lower levels and become compliant.

The simplest way to reduce heavy metals is to stop using traditional copper-based paints and start using copper-free or low copper content alternatives. SMS distributes E-Paint, Flexdel ARMOR, SmartBottom copper-free paints and Aquagard low copper boat bottom paints.

E-Paint has been in business for over 20 years and has 10 copper-free offerings including SN-1 and SN-1 HP paints which have been specified by the US Coast Guard and Navy for over a decade! E-Paint EP-2000 is used on all US Homeland Security Vessels and offers award winning performance. These brands have been rated "Excellent" by Practical Sailor Magazine. Use of E-Paint has also helped businesses obtain permits to discharge wash water directly to the ground without collection (see below). SmartBottom brand copper-free paints are solid performers yet very economical, primarily intended for commercial application. New Flexdel ARMOR paint is completely copper-free yet uses a potent cocktail of Econea and Zinc Pyrithione to obtain performance that exceeds that of high quality copper based paints. You can learn more about these paints by clicking on the icon logos below.

 E-Paint Copper-free Boat Bottom Paint logo   Flexdel ARMOR Copper-free Antifouling Boat Bottom Paint  Aquagard Water-Based Antifouling Boat Bottom Paint   


Case Studies and Testimonials: 

Harry's Marine Repair in Westbrook, CT obtained a discharge permit to wash boats directly to the ground, reduced heavy metals in storm water run-off to become compliant and was the first working boatyard to achieve CT Clean Marina certification as a direct result of switching over to E-Paint copper-free paint. 

In 2005, Owner Harry Ruppenicker copper levels detected in Storm Water Run-off was twice the limit mandated by the CT DEP. To combat this problem, copper-based paint was banned in the marina and all boats were switched over to E-Paint copper-free bottom paint. As a result of removing copper paints, copper levels in storm water quickly dropped and Harry's Marine Repair has been compliant since 2007 to the current date of 2014.


Mr. Ruppenicker stated “When I implemented the copper-ban there was some initial grumbling among boat owners but now that they have seen how well the ePaint’s work after a full season, they are all on board and happy to be contributing to make Westbrook waters cleaner. The ePaint works better and it doesn't cost any more than the copper stuff. ePaint also doesn’t promote electrolysis on the underwater metal gear which is an added bonus.” Harry’s Marine is proud to be copper-free and an model to other boatyards across the country. 

Harry's Marine Repair
Westbrook, CT 06498


Webhannet River Boat Yard in Wells, ME purchased an SMS wash water containment system and switched customers over to E-Paint brand bottom paints. As a result, they are now one of the first certified Maine Clean Boatyard & Marinas.


Hi Mike,

We were accepted as a “Maine Clean Boatyard” through Maine Marine Trades Association (MMTA) this January! 

E-Paint and the SMS wash water containment system helped us to achieve this status, Thank you!!

Warm Regards,

Brandy Lee & Scott

Webhannet River Boat Yard, Inc.
Wells, ME 04090




We have recently installed an "SMS" waste water containment system that will allow us to continue to pressure wash boats under Maine's new Anti-fouling Paint Contaminated Wash Water General Permit. This system collects, filters and disposes of waste water containing pesticides and toxic compounds that could potentially harm marine life or contaminate drinking water. We understand the importance of preserving our marine environment while continuing to offer these services to our customers. This is another step in our efforts to obtain Clean Marina status through the Maine Clean Boatyards & Marina Program (MCBMP). - Andrew Lebel

Yarmouth Boat Yard
Yarmouth, ME 04096 


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