EPA is considering a proposal from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to designate the remaining coastal waters of the North Shore as a “No Discharge Area.” If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen, and Lawrence.
The Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) has petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation, with the town’s concurrence. EPA has in turn published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days, ending on June 20, 2010.
“EPA applauds these North Shore communities for taking this important step to improve their coastal water quality. By protecting our local environment, the communities are actually protecting the foundation for their vibrant local economies and healthy communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
Before EPA will endorse a No Discharge Area designation for any area, the applicant must demonstrate that there are enough “pumpout” facilities where boaters can get their sewage holding tanks pumped out. This particular area has an estimated 5,555 boats, of which 1525 may have a head or toilet on board. There are more than 25 marinas or boat yards are adjacent to the proposed NDA. There are a total of 13 pumpouts facilities in the proposed area.
“This critical piece in the NDA puzzle gives us continuous no discharge coverage all the way from the New Hampshire border to the tip of Provincetown,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles. “And by keeping bacteria and pathogens from boat sewage out of these coastal waters, we are protecting important commercial clamming areas with some of the best steamers in New England.”
The proposed area is roughly 9,000 acres including the Great Marsh – the largest salt marsh system (over 10,000 acres) north of Long Island, N.Y. The area also encompasses a state Area of Critical Environment Concern (ACEC.) The no discharge area also encompasses the 2,900 acre Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is known as an important site on the Atlantic fly-way migration route. Over 300 species of birds have been sighted there, including 75 rare species. This area is a popular destination for boaters due to its natural environmental diversity.
“I’d like to thank these 16 North Shore communities for their commitment to coastal water quality,” said Deerin Babb-Brott, EEA Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Zone Management and CZM Director. “Like all NDA designations, this was a team effort. Local, state, and federal partners worked together to both protect these coastal waters and make it easy for boaters to properly dispose of sewage through convenient pumpout options.”
The coastal area along the upper North Shore of Massachusetts is important for the tourism and recreation industries of the region, including Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Crane Beach, Sandy Point State Reservation, Halibut Point State Park and Maudslay State Park. The area is a popular destination for boaters due to its natural environmental diversity and would benefit from a No Discharge Area
Many other areas in New England already have designated their coastal waters as No Discharge Areas these include:
- All state marine waters of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire;
- In Massachusetts: Harwich, Waquoit Bay, Nantucket Harbor, Wellfleet, Barnstable, and Buzzards Bay (including Wareham and Westport), Plymouth/ Duxbury/ Kingston area, Marshfield/Scituate/ Cohasset, Salem Sound, Boston Harbor, Cape Cod Bay, and Revere/Saugus/Lynn/Nahant/Swampscott. There is also currently a proposal to designate Pleasant Bay and Chatham Harbor;
- In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and West Penobscot Bay (Camden/Rockport/Rockland);
- No Discharge Areas in New England (www.epa.gov/ne/eco/nodiscrg/index.html)
- How to comment on proposal (http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480ae8ada) Docket number: EPA-R01-OW-2010-0316