Toilets On Boats

I recently posted the following in an article about Thetford Portable Toilets, but I felt that doing my best to clarify this is important enough that it should have a post of it’s own.

There have been some recent changes to boating regulations relating to toilets in boats. Of course, along with regulation changes come questions and I had one, specifically,

“Can I have a porti-potti on a boat in inland waters in Canada?”

Those of us with boats, particularly pontoon boats, like to spend the day on the water. Having a toilet of some sort is a very nice addition to the boat, but we want to stay legal at the same time.

I had tried to uncover the answer to that question and found the available information to be lacking, at the very least unclear, if not downright non-existent.

However, what I could find led me to believe that you could not have a portable toilet on a boat used in lakes and rivers etc.

But…..all is not lost.

I contacted the Office of Boating Safety, part of Transport Canada and posed the question to them in an email. Here is their response:

“The temporary storage that you are suggesting to put on board your boat is acceptable as temporary storage. “Temporary means of storage” (such as porta-potties, composting toilets etc.) are acceptable in designated and inland waters, as long as the intent is for the sewage to be taken ashore and disposed of properly.
The term “well secured” indicates that the toilet and the holding tank should withstand conditions that the vessel will be subject to – rough water, high wind, etc. And of course, the toilet will not come loose from where it is attached and the contents will not spill from the holding tank due to rough sea conditions. The rough water conditions and high winds refer to conditions that could be present in the area where the vessel operates.
There are some issues with the current wording of the regulations with regard to temporary means of storage, which will hopefully will be fixed/clarified in the next phase of amendments. In any case, the intent of the regulation is to keep sewage out of the water.”

So, it appears a portable toilet is OK, but it has to be securely fastened so as not to fall overboard in rough water conditions etc. I am now working out a method to fasten mine to the pontoon boat without it being too cumbersome to remove to empty.

While I am on the subject of portable toilets and boats, I should also mention that regardless of what you have heard, installing a toilet in a boat is not carte blanche approval to consume alcohol or even carry open liquor on a boat. Liquor regulations can vary by province or state and most do not appear to allow it aboard boats that are underway.

Boats that have living quarters, such as beds, sinks, toilets, cooking stoves etc, i.e. houseboats, have some leeway when the boat is being used as a home, but it is not blanket approval. Check with your local police authorities, it is more than likely illegal. Better safe than sorry. Alcohol and boating do not mix at any rate, so better to leave the booze at home and don’t start drinking until your boating is over.

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