The Boating Basics of Clean Drain Dry

Millions of boaters make their way to British Columbian waterways each year. Most boaters do not realize that aquatic invaders can be hitching a ride to the next waterbody they visit. Whether enjoying wake surfing, cruising in a sailing boat, or trolling a lake for a few bites, all boaters can protect BC waters by taking the time to Clean Drain Dry.

Aquatic invaders include plants and animals that can be so small they are invisible to the naked eye. These aquatic invasive species can hurt BC’s economy, our waters and wildlife, and people. One example is the aquatic invasive plant, Eurasian watermilfoil. This species grows in thick mats that can harm fish, clog propellers, or create a hazard for swimmers. As Aquatic invaders can cling tightly to hard surfaces and travel long distances in standing waters, they tend to spread easily and are hard to spot.  The best way boaters can avoid moving aquatic invaders is to Clean, Drain and Dry boats and gear when leaving a body of water.

‘Clean Drain Dry’ includes three simple steps that boaters can take to ensure their boats and gear are free of aquatic invaders, leaving the waterways that we enjoy free of unwanted plants and animals.

Clean all plants, animals and mud from your boat and gear.

To make sure a boat is clean, a visual inspection of the watercraft and all gear should be conducted. This includes anything that was submerged in or exposed to water such as the hull, trailer, anchor and flotation devices. If any mud or plant parts are spotted, they should be removed and disposed of on land and the mud should be thoroughly rinsed off. A bucket of water from the lake to spot rinse can do the trick.

Drain all water from your boat and gear onto land.

The second step is to drain any part of the boat or gear that holds water, including ballast tanks, bilge, and live wells. After your boat is out of the water, tilt the motor back to drain all water. It’s a good habit to pull plugs and store them in a safe place. If you are travelling outside of BC, always remember to pull the plug as some provinces have fines for watercraft that are transported with the plugs still in place!

Dry all parts of your boat and gear completely.

A fully drained watercraft makes the last step of drying easy. The goal of drying a boat and equipment is to ensure there is no standing water left inside. Use a towel to reach hard-to-dry areas. Allowing your boat to airdry completely between uses can also help eliminate invasive species. Keep in mind, some species can still survive for long durations when out of water!

With more than 15 million boaters enjoying Canadian waters each year, the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species is high. Everyone can lower this risk and help protect BC waters from by ensuring they Clean, Drain and Dry their boat after leaving a body of water.

For watercraft that have been operated outside of BC, AB, WA, ID, OR, or WY please contact the BC Conservation Officer Service RAPP Hotline 1-877-952-7277 prior to entering BC waters.  Additionally, all watercraft must stop at open designated watercraft inspection stations in BC.  It’s the LAW.  Sightings of zebra or quagga mussels must be reported to the RAPP hotline.

For more information, watch for Clean Drain Dry resources and information at waterways near you! The Clean Drain Dry pilot initiative is lead through the Invasive Species Council of BC with

funding by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and under contract to the Canadian Council on Invasive Species.

To learn more about provincial invasive species regulations, programs and Clean Drain Dry, visit

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