Evaluating boat cleaning station efficacy on the removal of residual water from recreational boats

A risk factor for the spread of aquatic invasive species is the residual water left in a watercraft after it leaves a waterbody. This water can be transported and potentially released into another waterbody.

One option to reduce residual water in recreational watercraft are cleaning stations. These multifunctional units are permanently installed at boat launches and supply boaters with tools and equipment to thoroughly clean their boat. This study evaluated the practicality and effectiveness of a CD3 Cleaning Station vacuum for removing residual water from various recreational boats.

Three different boats were used for this project: a) 16 foot fishing boat with hand tiller motor and one water holding compartment (livewell); b) 18 foot fishing boat with single console, outboard motor, and one water-holding compartment (livewell); and c) 20 foot ski boat with inboard/outboard motor. During each trial, lake water was deliberately introduced to each watercraft to represent common scenarios of watercraft use, such as filling the livewell, spilling a bait bucket, recreational equipment pulled from the water, etc. The boats were launched in lakes, driven around, and trailered; then main hull drains and livewell drain plugs were removed and quantified to simulate standard practices. Next, the same scenario was performed again, but the vacuum was used to remove accessible water that could not be drained.


Despite compliance with standard drain plug regulations, residual water remained in all boat types and in all compartments examined; however, the risk of residual water was reduced by using the CD3 Station vacuum. The bilge areas of the three boat types averaged 193-1497mL of residual water, but 19-100% of that water could be removed with the vacuum. The livewell areas for the two boat types averaged 810-1578mL of residual water, but 96.4-100% of the water could be removed with the vacuum.

This preliminary study suggests that the use of a vacuum to remove residual water may be an effective method for further reducing the risk of overland transport of residual water. While not 100% effective for all boat types, this demonstrates potential value to reduce the risk of AIS spread between lakes by promoting a more extensive and comprehensive approach to water removal.

Note: Research findings are not a specific endorsement of CD3 Stations. This research fulfilled a need identified in MAISRC’s Research Needs Assessment. CD3 was not involved with the analysis or interpretation of results.

Pilot work in Minnesota has shown that starry stonewort populations and growth patterns of can vary between years and between lakes in different locations. These patterns suggest that how starry stonewort invades a lake could be influenced by climatological factors such as ice-out date, growing season length, and average water temperature. If this is the case, then developing effective management strategies for starry stonewort requires a deeper and more specific understanding of how climate change will influence the invasion dynamics of the species. 

The project includes:

  • An empirical study of starry stonewort invasion dynamics in nine lakes across latitudinal gradients in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana.
  • Interviews with AIS managers and decision-makers in Wiscnsin, Minnesota and Indiana to examine invasive species management perceptions and preferences as they relate to starry stonewort.
  • Modeling starry stonewort invasion patterns under a range of climate and management scenarios. 

This project will provide practical information on the ecology of starry stonewort, a summary of current stakeholder preferences around starry stonewort management, as well as an evaluation of optimal management strategies.

The study is one component of a larger research project that is funded by the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative administered by the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University

Project manager: Nick Phelps  

Funded in part by CD3 Cleaning Stations and non-sponsored contributions

Project start date: 2018

Project end date: 2018

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