Local marina earns TVA award

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   One local marina will soon be flying a new flag now that it has been officially recognized by the Tennessee Valley Authority as a "Clean Marina."
   Fish Springs Marina, located on Watauga Lake, has been awarded the special designation by the TVA in recognition of the marina's efforts to maintain a clean waterway.
   "To receive this designation, a marina must meet all federal, state and local regulations related to marina management," said TVA Clean Marina Coordinator Melinda Andrews. "The marina must also implement a number of recommended practices to minimize pollution and encourage boaters to become effective stewards of the water resources."
   As a result of efforts by marina owner and harbor master Thomas White, Fish Springs Marina voluntarily sought "innovative measures" to handle boat sewage, according to the TVA. The marina was designated as a no-discharge marina, which prohibits the release of untreated and treated sewage within the harbor limits.
   "We're certainly excited. We'll be the first marina on Watauga Lake to get it," White said. "We're the third cleanest lake in America according to some ratings and we'd like to keep it that way."
   The marina has been working for approximately two and a half years to attain the status of "Clean Marina", according to White.
   "The big issue is pumping house boat sewage," said White. "We have received a grant from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to put in a sewage holding station." The new sewage holding station would enable house boats to pump their sewage into the holding station for the marina to haul away to dispose of it rather than releasing it into the lake. White said the marina is waiting to hear from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for approval of the plans for the sewage holding station.
   The TVA developed the Clean Marina program to help preserve the water ways in the TVA region. "It started with TVA doing a pilot on Norris Lake," said TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci. "It began because there was so much dumping of waste into the reservoir by house boats and concerns about fuel spills."
   According to Martocci, marinas vying for the elite status are given a list of criteria to meet and once those criteria are met, the marina gets to fly the "Clean Marina" flag.
   "As of January 1, 2004, there were 25 marinas flying the Clean Marina flag in the TVA system," Martocci said, adding that some people may underestimate the importance of the distinction. "Some people say 'So what. They get to fly a flag.' But you would be amazed at the number of people who we talk to who say it does make a difference to them to go to a clean marina that is well kept and to have their moorings there."
   In a ceremony which will be open to the public, TVA representatives will present a certificate and Clean Marina flag to White at Fish Springs Marina at 5 p.m. on Saturday.