Boat dumps septic waste into Brandy Pond

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES – Naples resident Dan Craffey and his wife had just finished eating dinner, and were heading home across Brandy Pond when they saw something that turned their stomachs.

“We came across toilet paper and (human) waste floating in the water. So, someone had dumped their holding waste tank from one of the cruisers,” Craffey said.

“It was pretty disgusting,” he said.

“There was about seven to eight feet of it all together. I’m guessing it had happened about an hour earlier because it hadn’t dispersed yet,” he said.

The amount of excrement was such that he believes it came from a cruiser; and since it was in the middle of the lake, it was unlikely to have come from shore.

He came across the contents of a boat’s holding tank around 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. on Saturday night, which was the evening of the Fourth of July. It was about an hour before sunset, with twilight occurring around 9 p.m.

The incident is extreme, and one Craffey had never encountered.

“It was pretty disheartening,” he said.

“I have never seen something like that before. I’ve been on the lake 40 some years, and I have never seen that act of disrespect. And, I hope to never see that again,” he said.

Additionally, with the increased boat usage this summer, Craffey has seen more litter floating in the water – items like plastic bottles and paper products.

Other residents of Naples and Casco have also commented that they have seen more trash in the lakes than in years past.

Not littering and not dumping a boat’s septic tank in the lake are part of taking care of the water, Craffey said.

“I look at the water as our industry,” he said.

“There are so many dollars” tied to the tourism in the Lakes Region, he said.

“The lakes are our industry. It is so important for us to keep our lakes and ponds pristine so that people continue to come here,” he said.

The Naples Harbor Master Bill Callahan said that he did not hear reports of a boat holding tank being dumped over the Fourth of July weekend. Callahan said it is illegal to dump a boat’s holding tank while on the water and being caught doing so could result in a $10,000 fine.

Following a Naples Planning Board meeting, Chairman Larry Anton said someone had told him that they had seen the contents from a boat’s holding tank moving across Brandy Pond on Saturday night.

According to Naples Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Renee Carter, this behavior is not confined to Brandy Pond. It happens in other area lakes. She said that non-residents have told her they have dumped full holding tanks in the water while boating because they believe the lake will “flush out” or clean itself.

“How many boats can do that before the lake can no longer flush it out,” she said.

She cited China Lake as a body of water that reached the point of no return – despite the efforts of people to reverse the effects of pollution and algae blooms.

Legislation that would have forbade boats from having on-board toilets failed to become law mostly because it would have negative impact on boating industry, she said.

The Lakes Environmental Agency (LEA) does regular quality monitoring as well as checking for E. coli in area bodies of water, she said. E. coli is a bacterium that comes from human and animal feces. Excrement that is not diluted by the water can lead to increased levels of phosphorous.

The LEA website listed Brandy Pond’s water quality as “moderate to high concern.” This rating was primarily due to low levels of dissolved or regenerated oxygen in deeper water. Also, the water clarity has worsened over the past five years, the website said.

LEA Director Peter Lowell was not available for comment on Wednesday morning.

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