Bilge Evaporator Maker
Ready for Water Regulations
Waterways Journal article (12/29/08) by David Murray
As new Clean Water Act obligations hit vessel owners on December 19 (WJ, December 15), at least one river businessman is poised to help out with the changes and challenges in water discharge management.
Roscoe McWilliams, owner of SkimOil Inc., designs, builds and sells oil water separators and bilge and gray water evaporator systems under the name BilgeVAP.
McWilliams thinks his BilgeVAP units will be in great demand.
“The BilgeVAP is designed to safely and easily evaporate the water portion away. Bring power and a water line to it, and vent your water discharge problems to the atmosphere,” said McWilliams.
SkimOil’s BilgeVAP system (patent pending) evaporates the waste water portion, leaving oil and other residues to be recovered and recycled. That includes “gray water,” such as shower, wash and dishwater used on a boat. Even “treated” black water is being evaporated by some operators who prefer to put nothing overboard.
Now any water containing oils, soap and waste will be regulated. (“Black water” or sewage is already separately regulated by the Coast Guard.)
“Operators will now have to manage gray water, treated black water, bilge water, and maybe even deck water. One large marine company figured that running gray water through its MSD system would be adequate,” said McWilliams, “but they found out otherwise.” No-discharge zones are becoming more common in the U.S., he said.
McWilliams calls his product a “forehead-slapper” for towboat owners. “If you have no water, you have no water discharge problems,” he said, “and the BilgeVAP has no moving parts to break down. Simply feed it your water—and it’s eliminated. “You are now ultimately responsible for any waste stream—from cradle to grave. The BilgeVAP is the grave for these marine water waste streams.”
The BilgeVAP is simple to install and operate, said McWilliams, requiring only placement and anchoring, then bringing power and water to it, and venting it to atmosphere. Some boats even put their unit in the galley. “It’s a well-designed, rugged device with very simple controls, that can be furnished ‘bare bones,’ or as a system with an optional fill pump or autofill system for complete hands-off operation,” said McWilliams.
“The only caveat is energy use. You need a gen set that can handle it.”
McWilliams said that in the past 10 years, over 100 of the BilgeVAPS have been sold and are still working. With the new regulations, he expects that portion of his business to increase. Business was brisk at the WorkBoat Show in New Orleans, where he took several orders.
“This much interest at one time is new for us,” he said. “SkimOil has ramped up fabrication and production to meet this increased demand. Our company is well positioned for this transition. Everyone recognizes that the old rules don’t apply. The feds are coming, and the fines can be heavy.”
Up until 6 months ago, most marine companies “were only vaguely aware” of the looming regulations, said McWilliams, “but now the issue is front and center.”
On the environment, said McWilliams, “We’ve all been tried and sentenced to living with the pollution and problems we’ve created, but here’s a chance to minimize it and do the right thing.”