Use a Four Stroke Engine

Did you know...

Studies have shown that carbureted two-stroke engines may discharge up to 20-30 percent of their fuel, unburned, into the air and water. To reduce the impact of these motorized vessels on Lake Whatcom water quality, the City of Bellingham (2006) and Whatcom County (2009) prohibited the launch and use of all carbureted two-stroke engines on Lake Whatcom.

Conventional, carbureted two-stroke engines have been found to be the highest contributors of air and water pollution due to their design -- the intake and exhaust ports on a two-stroke engine are open at the same time during the combustion cycle. Studies conducted by the EPA indicate that conventional two-stroke engines discharge 25-30% of their fuel, unburned, into the environment, when operated at full throttle. This means that for every 10 gallons of fuel used in a conventional two-stroke, 2.5 to 3 gallons may go directly into the air and water.

Luckily, conventional carbureted two-stroke engines are slowly being replaced by more efficient and less polluting four-stroke and fuel-injected two-stroke engines. These newer engines are 30-40% more fuel efficient resulting in substantial cost savings to the user.

You can help!

Know the regulations

The City and County's two-stroke regulations have been phased in over time. As of January 1, 2009 the operation of all two-stroke engine-powered watercraft on Lake Whatcom is prohibited unless the watercraft is powered by a two-stroke-powered engine that is certified and labeled as meeting the 2006 or later model year U.S. EPA emission standards. Check for the label or ask your mechanic if you are unsure whether your engine meets these requirements.

Reduce engine pollution

  • Make your next boat one that does not use a gasoline engine for its main source of power, such as a sailboat, kayak, rowboat, etc.
  • Use an electric motor.
  • Choose a cleaner and more efficient engine when purchasing a new engine.
  • Limit engine operation at full throttle.
  • Eliminate unnecessary idling.
  • Tune and maintain your engine to increase efficiency and decrease leaks.

Be responsible when fueling

  • Make sure the gas tank is easily accessible.
  • Take your boat or tank to a gas station. Refill oil and gas away from the water.
  • Pump/pour fuel extremely slowly.
  • Know your fuel tank size prior to fueling.
  • Don't top off the tank -- leave room for expansion.
  • Have an absorbent pad and/or fuel collar ready for drips.
  • Install a fuel/air separator.
  • Use a gasoline container you can handle easily and hold securely.
  • Use a funnel or a spout with an automatic stop device to prevent overfilling the gas tank.