Oregon Sea Grant Extension tells boaters where to go when they have to go

Jenny East, a boater outreach specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension
Jenny East is a boater outreach specialist with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU Extension. Photo by Tiffany Woods.

There are approximately 80 locations in the Oregon where recreational boaters can find floating restrooms, pump out their holding tanks or flush away the contents of their portable toilets. However, marina staff don’t always know how to maintain these facilities or troubleshoot problems. Also, boaters don’t always know where these facilities are.

Jenny East, the boating outreach coordinator with Oregon Sea Grant Extension, is changing that. She checks these facilities for wear and tear and talks with maintenance staff and boaters about any problems they may have with them, such as a broken pump or an untidy facility. Then she works with the staff and the Oregon State Marine Board to resolve issues. 

Since she was hired in December 2015, East has twice inspected about 40 facilities along the coast, Willamette Valley and Columbia River. Based at the Extension Service’s office in Beaverton, she has traveled from Brookings to Astoria and even to Hermiston, Detroit Lake and the Fern Ridge Reservoir west of Eugene. Through her visits, she learned that some marina employees needed training on how to service the facilities. So she collaborated with the marine board and OSG’s communications team to produce a series of videos on how to maintain and winterize the facilities and troubleshoot problems with them. In 2017, OSG also produced two short videos that encourage boaters to empty their portable toilets and holding tanks at designated facilities.

Wherever boaters congregate, East has been there with her booth, informational handouts and porta-potty. She has attended yacht club meetings and the Portland Boat Show; been interviewed on the radio about her work; and spoken to and joined the Oregon Women’s Sailing Association. East informs boaters about the Clean Vessel Act grant program, which provides funds to states for the installation and maintenance of the waste disposal facilities. She also gives boaters a sheet with locations of the facilities, and directs boaters to BoatOregon.com, where they can find an interactive map of the sites.

“Jenny’s energy, enthusiasm and ability to easily talk to boaters about a sensitive issue has been tremendous,” said Ashley Massey, the public information officer for the marine board.