Sep 07, 2011

Ban Announced on Dumping Sewage from Boats into Long Island Sound

U.S. EPA and New York State issue no discharge zone in New York waters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced yesterday that a 760 sq mile area of Long Island Sound is now a “no discharge zone,” which means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water.

EPA reviewed DEC’s proposal to establish a no discharge zone, which was proposed in April 2011, for New York areas of the Long Island Sound and determined that there are adequate facilities in the Sound for boats to pump out their sewage. Boaters must now dispose of their sewage at these designated pump-out stations.

This action is part of a joint EPA and New York state strategy to eliminate the discharge of boat sewage into the state’s waterways. These discharges can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, that have negative impacts on water quality, pose a risk to human health and impair marine life.

“Clean water is one of New York’s most valuable assets, and pumping sewage from boats into local waters is a practice that is both harmful and completely unnecessary,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Establishing a no discharge zone for the New York portions of Long Island Sound is an important step to further protect water quality and vital aquatic habitat in the Sound.”

“This addition to the list of ‘no discharge zones’ offers enhanced protections for the New York portions of Long Island Sound and closes a loophole exposed by boaters from neighboring states who have restrictions in place,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “We will continue to work collaboratively with EPA and other partners to protect our natural resources that are vital for our health, economy and recreation.”

The designation of a New York no discharge zone now creates one comprehensive policy for discharges to Long Island Sound. Connecticut, which has jurisdiction for half of the Sound, already designated its portion of the waters as a no discharge zone. Previously, boaters could simply cross into New York waters to discharge sewage. Yesterday’s designation puts a ban on this practice.

The no discharge zone for the Long Island Sound will include the open waters, harbors, bays and navigable tributaries of the Sound and a portion of the East River from the Hell Gate Bridge in the west to the northern bounds of Block Island Sound in the east. The waters of Mamaroneck Harbor, Huntington-Northport Bay Complex, Port Jefferson Complex, Hempstead Harbor and Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Complex have already been designated as no discharge zones.

EPA’s final decision and more information about no discharge zones are available at www.epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html.

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