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Clean, Drain, Dry: NYS Law requires boat owners to certify boats clean from invasive plants/species

New York State law now requires that every boat (including motorboats, kayaks/canoes, and associated equipment) operated anywhere in the state is to be clean, drain, dried before launching into a public waterbody. This requirement can be met by the boat operator OR by visiting a watercraft inspection station (Click HERE to find a local boat washing station near you).

Frequently Asked Questions about Clean. Drain. Dry. Regulations in the Adirondack Park

(from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website):

1. What is the purpose of Cleaning, Draining and Drying?

We know that all watercraft can transport aquatic invasive species (AIS) like Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla, and zebra mussels. Cleaning, draining, and drying protects New York’s waters by reducing the possibility of aquatic invasive species being introduced into new waterbodies.

2. Is cleaning, draining, and drying my boat mandatory?

YES. New York State law requires that every boat (including motorboats, kayaks/canoes, and associated equipment) operated anywhere in the state is to be clean, drain, dry or treated before launching into a public waterbody. This requirement can be met by the boat operator OR by visiting a watercraft inspection station. At select locations watercraft inspection stewards can assist with watercraft and gear inspections and direct boaters to a decontamination station if AIS are found or suspected.

3. What is involved in cleaning, draining, and drying?

Follow these steps to make sure your equipment is not harboring any invasive species: a. Clean any mud, plants, fish, or animals from your boating and fishing equipment (trailer bunks, axles, rollers, lights, transducers, license plates, motor props, tackle, waders, etc.) and discard the material in trash cans, at a disposal station, or well away from the waterbody, so it won’t get washed in during a storm. b. Drain all water holding compartments, including ballast tanks, live wells, and bilge areas, before you leave an access site. c. Dry everything thoroughly before using your boat or equipment in another waterbody. (Drying times can vary but a minimum of 5-7 days in dry, warm conditions is recommended.) d. Disinfect boats, trailers, and equipment when possible. Use high pressure, hot water that is at least 140 degrees F or visit a boat steward/decontamination site to perform this step. Water holding compartments including bilges and live wells should be disinfected also.

4. What is a Watercraft Inspection Station?

To assist the public in complying with the law requiring the Clean.Drain.Dry. standard, NYS DEC supports the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program (WISP) at popular boat ramps and roadside locations across the state. These are locations that are staffed with boat stewards (personnel typically wearing blue vests) who will educate boaters on aquatic invasive species and assist them in performing these steps.

5. Where can I find a map of steward and decontamination unit locations and learn about the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program?

The map can be found at: OR search ‘boat stewards’ at or visit for more information.

6. Are there different requirements when launching in the Adirondacks?

YES. Beginning in 2022, a new state law requires all motorboats launching into public waterbodies within 10 miles of and in the Adirondack Park (see attached map, Figure 1.), comply with Clean.Drain.Dry. AND operators must be in possession of a self-issued or steward-issued certificate obtained at an accredited aquatic invasive species inspection station operated by a watercraft inspection steward. These certificates must be kept with the motorboat when launched.

7. How do I certify my motorboat before launching?

The best way to ensure your boat is Clean.Drain.Dry. and you are doing your part to protect our waters is to visit an inspection station to have your motorboat inspected and certified by a watercraft inspection steward. Self-issued certificates are also available and can be obtained for download and printing from DEC’s website: ( Motorboat operators should perform all necessary Clean.Drain.Dry steps and then must fully complete these certificates before launching.

8. Is there a difference between self-issued certificates and an inspection certificate received from a boat steward?

No. The certificates may look different but both serve to document your compliance with Clean.Drain.Dry. standards and should be always kept on your boat.

9. If I am re-launching into the same waterbody do I need to perform clean/drain/dry steps or obtain a new certification?

No. Watercraft re-launched into the same waterbody do not need a new certification. Operators should keep the certification form obtained during the initial launch.

10. Do I need a certificate for my kayak or canoe?

No. Certificates are only required for motorized watercraft, but self-powered vessels are exempt. However, keep in mind you are still required to Clean.Drain.Dry. your vessel and equipment.

11. Do these requirements apply to small boats with trolling motors?

Yes. All vessels that are driven with a motor (electric or fuel-driven), regardless of size, are considered motorized watercraft and must follow these requirements.


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