Lake Minnetonka marina operators pushing for accountability

A grass roots campaign is taking hold over Minnesota marinas and two Lake Minnetonka marina operators are at the center of it all.

Jerry and Roxanne Rockvam, of Rockvam Boat Yards in Spring Park, both serve on the board of directors of Minnesota Clean Marina, an organization dedicated to bring environmental accountability to the industry.

“It promotes self-regulation among the marina industry,” Jerry Rockvam said of the project.

The project essentially focuses on best management practices for the marina industry, local governments and recreational boaters – how they recycle waste, how they handle oil and fluids and how boats are cleaned.

There is a list of mandatory items for marinas to take care of and a list of optional ones. Once 100 percent of the required ones are met, along with 65 percent of the optional ones, an inspection team is dispatched to the marina. If everything checks out, certification is issued.

So far five Minnesota marinas have been certified – Rockvam Boat Works and four marinas on the St. Croix River.

Jerry Rockvam became aware of a clean marina project back in 1999, when he was in marine management school in Arizona. A classmate of his was working on a similar project in Florida. That project eventually spread up the east coast, through the Great Lakes region and is now taking shape in the Midwest.

“Since then the whole program has kind of plagiarized itself,” he said.

Because he was still involved in city government, he didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. After his time as mayor of Spring Park was done in 2008, he decided it was time to get more active.

The incentives to marinas are numerous, he said.

“There’s really no cost involved,” he said. “It’s self-evaluation of best practices and it shows environmental concern.”

The program is taking off enough at this point that they’ve got some partners, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the Midwest Marina Association have both given money, along with a handful of other organizations.

Recently, the organization got its self-evaluation worksheets out, which will make it easier for more marinas to get certified. He’s hopeful that will spur more marinas, including those on Lake Minnetonka, to take part in the program.

“I’m optimistic that we can get 6-8 more signed up this year.”

For more information on the program go to minnesotacleanmarina.org.

Contact Jared Huizenga at jared.huizenga@ecm-inc.com

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