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Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 11:00pm

Bill Would Legalize Living On Boats

A coastal lawmaker has introduced legislation to legalize living aboard boats.

The bill would overturn a move by state environmental officials aimed at keeping human waste from Georgia's protected coastal waters.

The state passed a law 20 years ago outlawing live-aboards because many dumped their toilet waste into rivers and marshes.

Now, coastal officials say, Georgia has a black eye with boaters who bypass the state because they can't stay for long.

The Department of Natural Resources enacted rules last year to allow long-term boat stays if boaters agree to hook up to marina waste systems.

Woodbine Republican Jason Spencer says, the paperwork involved still leaves a bad impression.

"Cruising associations live by the motto 'Leave a Clean Wake,'" Spencer says. "They don't want to see these harbors trashed. It's in their best interest to regulate themselves."

Spencer says, he's open to discuss amendments to keep the worst offenders from setting up a floating residence.

"If you're not taking care of your waste as you should then we might need to put some provisions in the law for that," Spencer says. "But right now, I think, getting the discussion started by removing the code gets the debate going."

Spencer says, without a change, Georgia coastal communities are losing tourism dollars.