Boston Harbor becomes a No Discharge area

BOSTON – With state and local backing, the Environmental Protection Agency is designating Boston Harbor as a No Discharge area, the EPA said in a press release yesterday. This status means that discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage are prohibited within the harbor’s waters, which include waterways in Boston, Braintree, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Hingham, Hull, Milton, Newton, Quincy, Watertown, Weymouth and Winthrop.

In May, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, in partnership with the cities of Boston and Quincy and the Urban Harbor Institute, petitioned the EPA to approve the No Discharge designation. Following consideration of the request and a 30-day public review and comment period, the EPA will approve the request to protect these coastal waters from boat sewage.

“Designating a major urban shipping waterway like Boston Harbor as a No Discharge area is an important milestone in EPA’s effort to protect the entire New England coastline from boat sewage,” said Robert Varney, EPA New England Office regional administrator.

“The city of Boston has committed to providing more pumpout facilities including a new pumpout boat to ensure that Boston Harbor is an even cleaner and more vibrant place for our residents, families and visitors to enjoy,” said Thomas Menino, Boston’s mayor.

“One-third of the Massachusetts coast is now designated as NDA, and we are well on our way to Governor Patrick’s goal of all of the Commonwealth’s coastal waters becoming discharge-free,” said Ian Bowles, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which includes the Office of Coastal Zone Management.

To quality for a No Discharge designation, the applicant must show there are enough “pumpout” facilities where boaters can get their sewage holding tanks pumped out. This particular area has an estimated 8,720 boats, of which only 4,047 are large enough to have a head or toilet on board. There are a total of 35 pumpout facilities in the designated area available to the boating community. In addition, there are four pending pumpout facilities, which should be operational this boating season.

The Urban Harbors Institute and the cities of Boston and Quincy initiated the No Discharge area designation process in summer 2007 to safeguard local marine resources.

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