Fort Mill Times

Harbortowne earns Clean Marina status

A trend on the upstream end of Lake Wylie could keep the water a little cleaner on its way down, as the Lake Wylie Marine Commission certified Harbortowne Marina last week as its newest Clean Marina.

Harbortowne was the first new marina named since Tailrace Marina in January 2012. Also designated as Clean Marinas on Lake Wylie are Commodore Yacht Club and Lake Club, River Hills and Tega Cay marinas. Commissioner Robert Biggerstaff met with Harbortowne staff a handful of times this year before Wednesday’s official presentation, checking off the needed items a week prior.

“I didn’t want to just give it away,” he said. “I wanted them to earn it, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The marine commission program is patterned after similar ones at the state level.

Points are awarded for features such as pump-out stations or boats, proper use of booms, safety features at gas docks and staff training for emergencies.

In 2006, River Hills became the first inland marina in South Carolina to earn the state status. The marine commission worked with South Carolina program officials to develop its program.

Joel Summitt, manager at Harbortowne, said getting in line with Clean Marina standards involved labeling gas shut-off valves, replacing outdated absorbents and similar projects.

All are important efforts, he said, for the more than 20-year-old facility.

“It was a lot of small stuff,” he said. “We had the big stuff covered.”

The program “shines a light” efforts from recycling to emergency planning, Summitt said. He’s hopeful the work he and other Clean Marinas are doing will make a positive impact on the lake.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Summitt said. “We all need to be more conscious.”

While “Clean Marina” may sound like it deals mostly with oil spills or pump-out problems, much of what’s required involves how to respond to problems and training to prevent them from happening.

“A lot of it’s dealing with safety,” Biggerstaff said.

Joe Stowe, executive director of the marine commission, said as more marinas earn the Clean Marina designation, the task will become maintenance. Recertification of existing members is the next step in the program.

“We need to go back and check and make sure they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do,” Stowe said.

Biggerstaff said there are a few marinas he’d still like to see take on Clean Marina status. His hope is that if all marinas on the lake look out for water quality issues, everyone will benefit.

“It’s everybody,” Biggerstaff said.

“If you don’t boat there you swim there, you eat the fish out of the water there. It impacts everybody.”