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Small Commercial Passenger Vessels and Ferries

Small Cruise Ship and Ferry Wastewater Discharge Options

Alaska law requires that the owner or operator of a small commercial passenger vessel (50 to 249 overnight passengers determined by the number of lower berths), registered under the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance (CPVEC) Program, may not discharge treated sewage, graywater and other wastewater in Alaska waters unless the vessel meets one of the options described below. The vessel owner or operator must choose one of the following wastewater discharge options at the time of registration with the CPVEC.

  1. Obtain Department approval to operate under alternative terms and conditions described in AS 46.03.462 (k). You, as the owner or operator, must get Department approval by submitting a completed application and your Best Management Practices Plan (BMP) to the Department on or before March 1 of the year that you intend to begin operating in Alaska. The Department will approve a BMP if it meets the requirements of 18 AAC 69.046. The Department may approve a BMP for up to five years. Since 2004, all discharging small cruise ships and ferries have used this method.
  2. Obtain a discharge permit from the cruise ship program. You may apply for an individual permit to discharge wastewater in Alaska marine waters. The permit terms and conditions would include requirements for operations, monitoring, inspections, sampling, reporting, and Department access to your records beyond the requirements for each in a BMP. No small cruise ship owners or operators have yet applied for a discharge permit, so it would take time for the Department to develop a permit.
  3. No discharge of wastewater in state waters. This option requires you to hold graywater and blackwater onboard for discharge outside of Alaska marine waters, or for shoreside disposal. This option has been selected by some small cruise ships. This option does not require Department approval, effluent sampling, or submitting wastewater sampling plans.

For additional information and questions, please contact the cruise ship program.

List of small cruise ships are ferries under Best Management Practices Plans.

Supporting documents may be submitted by e-mail to

Commercial Passenger Vessels that carry over 250 passengers and choose to discharge wastewater in Alaska waters must apply for authorization to discharge. General Permit information is available on the cruise ship program GP web page.

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