Issue: September 2001
Green Up

A new Virginia program encourages marinas  to clean up their environmental acts.


     Virginia boatowners who wish their marinas were a little more “green” have a new ally in the state’s new Clean Marina Program. Similar to Maryland’s program, which has been in place for several years, the voluntary Virginia initiative encourages marina operators and boatowners to take steps to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Bay. It lays out a series of goals that each marina must meet to reach status as a Virginia Clean Marina.

     Marina operators first sign a pledge stating they will work toward clean marina status in a year. Then they must go through a checklist of steps to reach the goal, with help from the Marina Technical Assistance Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS). Marinas have plenty to do to make the mark, like establishing recycling areas, moving boat wash-down and work areas away from the water’s edge, minimizing runoff-even creating wetlands and nature areas.

     Approximately 1,000 marinas in Virginia could work to become official clean marinas. Those that do will be recognized with “environmental enterprise” status in the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program, which offers businesses incentives to clean up their acts and minimize pollution. They also can use the Virginia Clean Marina logo in their correspondence and advertisements. Studies of similar programs in other states have shown that marinas recognized as environmentally friendly have lower vacancy rates. 

     “With its focus on educating willing stewards of our resources, this new program fits well with our continuing Virginia Naturally campaign,” says John Paul Woodley, the Commonwealth’s secretary of natural resources. (Virginia Naturally is a statewide initiative to promote lifelong learning about Virginia’s environment and the stewardship of its natural and historic resources.) “We’re already extremely pleased with the response we’re receiving from marina operators from both the public and private sector. Their input has also been crucial to the development of the Clean Marina Program.” 

     Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and VIMS worked with the Tidewater Marine Trades Association, the Virginia Association of Marine Industries and others in the private sector to develop the program, which was officially launched in January. Seventeen marinas have signed on to date.

     The Virginia Clean Marina Guidebook, plus a listing of all certified Virginia Clean Marinas and those that have pledged to work toward the clean marina goal, is available on the internet at