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.

Dr. Phelps serves as both the Director of MAISRC and as a MAISRC research fellow. The review and administration of Dr. Phelps research proposals and projects with MAISRC are guided by the Managing Director Conflict of Interest in MAISRC Proposal Funding policy. Questions about this policy can be directed to MAISRC Associate Director, Cori Mattke

Project manager: Nick Phelps  

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

Project start date: 2018

Project end date: 2018


Final report