New Restrictions for On-the-Water Fueling

In an effort to prevent hazardous or dangerous conditions created by people fueling their watercraft with portable cans or containers, the Sturgeon Bay Common Council gave final approval Tuesday to an ordinance to repeal and recreate a portion of the city code.

“We’ve had some issues [with portable cans and containers used to fuel watercraft] and we want to make sure that we are properly enforcing the on-the-water fueling,” said Fire Chief Tim Dietman. “There’s a lot of hazards that are associated with it, and it needs to be addressed properly.”

The new ordinance notes that fueling watercraft with portable cans or containers exposes people to fumes as well as potential pollution by spillage into the water. 

The new ordinance means that no one will be able to dispense a portable can or container into a watercraft’s fuel tank on city-owned or public waterfront, piers, docks or marinas. The measure also prohibits portable fuel cans or containers from being stored or left unattended at those places. Emergency fueling of watercraft from a portable container will be allowed only with an approved container not exceeding a six-gallon capacity.

Watercraft with onboard Class I or Class II fuel tanks will have to be removed from the water for fueling or be fueled at a commercial fueling facility, unless a state and local variance has been approved.

Dietman said the ordinance won’t apply to homeowners on their waterfront property.

“This doesn’t affect the homeowner who is fueling their own boat, but it has to be a homeowner on their property,” he said.

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