A banner week for marina cleanliness

On the Water

August 13, 2006|By ALIA MALIK

The flag flying over Atlantic Marina Resort is the state's version of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

The Pasadena marina, which invested $6,000 last year in measures to encourage boaters and employees to be more environmentally aware, proudly displays the "Maryland Clean Marina" flag for all to see.

It's the main perk of earning that designation from the Department of Natural Resources, which, along with the Marine Trades Association of Maryland, honored Atlantic and six other marine facilities Thursday. Five, including Atlantic, were certified as Maryland Clean Marinas, and two smaller sites were named Clean Marina Partners.

Since the Clean Marina initiative began in 1998, an average of 12 marine facilities a year have earned those designations by taking steps to help the environment, said Donna Morrow, the program's coordinator.

The number of certifications dropped this year, partly because federal grant money dried up. The DNR had previously passed along $200 to $20,000 for environmental upgrades.

Sites looking to become Clean Marinas start by signing a pledge to "keep Maryland's waterways free of harmful chemicals, excess nutrients and debris."

Clean Marinas must pass an evaluation in nine categories, which include petroleum control, emergency planning and sewage handling.

"The program is designed to be flexible," Morrow said. "It doesn't have to be the most expensive way; it just has to be effective."

After they sign the pledge, marina managers are given guidebooks to help them determine and make needed changes. Managers are guided through the process by Clean Marina staff members, who answer questions and help find engineers to make upgrades, Morrow said.

Since the program's start, the goal has been to certify 25 percent of Maryland's 600 marine facilities. Morrow estimates that 20 percent of Anne Arundel County's facilities are Clean Marinas. Several more, including the Annapolis City Marina, are in the process of becoming certified.

As a reward of sorts, certified marinas get to fly the blue-and-white flag advertising that they attained that goal. It's good publicity, Morrow said.

Cleanup time

At Atlantic Marina Resort, the management spent six to eight months setting up an extensive oil spill response program, taking steps to contain toxic paint stripped from boats, training staff on environmental procedures and putting out signs to guide the public in recycling paint and fuel, said Andy Dowell, the resort's general manager.

"If everyone does a little bit, it all adds up to make a cleaner bay," Dowell said.

The marina's parent company, the Brick Cos., has a "living roof" of grasses and flowers at its Edgewater headquarters. It gave Atlantic a blank check to meet its environmental needs, said Jan Holt, vice president of marketing.

"The return on investment isn't `We spent $1 today and we're going to get $2 back tomorrow,'" Holt said. "If we want to have recreational sports like boating and golf, we have to behave that way. It's very long term."

A new goal

Dowell also manages the former Gibson Island Marina, renamed Atlantic Marina on the Magothy after the Brick Cos. bought it July 12.

The new marina will be a Clean Marina by the time of next year's ceremony, Dowell said.

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