Milwaukee Yacht Club joins a handful of other marinas that are going above and beyond required environmental standards.
Milwaukee Yacht Club dates back to 1871 when it became the first major club on the Great Lakes. Now MYC has attained certified clean marina status.
The month is slipping away with likely few of us knowing that – September holds the distinction of being “Coastal Awareness Month” to showcase the importance of the Great Lakes’ coasts to Wisconsin’s history, economy and environment.
Todd Breiby is keenly aware of all of those things. He works with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
Breiby says his agency set up shop in 1978.
"So thirty five years working with a variety of partners including Wisconsin Marina Association, UW Sea Grant, Department of Natural Resources and many others to develop the clean marina program and that has been ongoing since 2008." Brieby's agency just awarded Reefpoint in Racine and Milwaukee Yacht Club certified Wisconsin Clean Marina status.
Dan Couillard manages Milwaukee Yacht Club's marina. He says over his 30 year career its operation has progressively become more environmentally friendly.
"Everything from the bottom paint on boats has gotten much less toxic. Rules and regulations have been put into place for safety and water quality. Every year the standards get a little more rigid." Couillard says it was common practice years ago for boaters to dump their excess fuel into the lake. Those days are over.
"Boats that are manufactured now capture and reuse fuel so that it doesn't go into the lake; the nozzles are different. There's all kinds of little things that make it a perfectly clean (system). Even if you have a mistake and you accidently put some in, we have contingency plans to remediate it right away."
Couillard says special products absorb the gasoline right out of the water.
A large paved parking lot resides just beyond the club and its docks. But Couillard says, not for long.
"There's plans to take that asphalt parking lot completely out of there and put different types of bedrock, and pavers and pebble and drain tile, so that even the cars that park at the marina if they drip gas or oil it will go into a filtration system and then be properly treated. Nothing will runoff this parking lot and go into the lake."
Couillard says the clean marina program is meant to serve by example.
"All the members who come down here that says this is what I should be doing for this and this and this and this; then it's on an individual basis. We can't be the policeman for everybody, but in general people deep down want to keep the place beautiful."
Couillard gazes out at the boats moored here and says you don't have to think too hard before Lake Michigan's importance to sink in.
"It's your environment. You're drinking the very water water that you're polluting literally. A mile offshore is where the intakes are; so come on, use your common sense."
Wisconsin Coastal Management's Todd Breiby calls the clean marina program an example of a voluntary program that works.
"You have the marina industry, you have marinas, you have local, state and federal agencies working together to develop a program that's voluntary. It's for those marinas and those boaters that want to go above and beyond what's necessary."
Part of the overall goal if all the Great Lakes’ partners is to encourage tourism. The Wisconsin Harbor Towns Association just published a travel guide.