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Release Date: 04/02/1997
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office; (617) 918-4154

BOSTON -- The New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency designated Stage Harbor in Chatham, Mass. a "No Discharge Area" today, prohibiting boats from dumping treated or untreated sewage into the harbor, nearby tidal flats and salt marshes.

The roughly 1,160 boats homeported in the harbor are now required to use pumpout facilities located at the Old Mill Boatyard or Stage Harbor Marine. Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats.

"Today's designation seeks to preserve one of the state's most coveted economic and recreational resources," said John P. DeVillars, administrator for the EPA's New England office. "By making the harbor a 'No Discharge Area,' we'll bring cleaner waters and safer beaches to everyone from the casual beachcomber to the commercial fisherman in this area of the Cape. I look forward to the day when we can designate the entire New England coastline a 'No Discharge Area'."

No Discharge Areas designations are already in place for 151 miles of Massachusetts coastal waters. The EPA most recently designated Wellfleet Harbor as a No Discharge Area two years ago. Other areas in New England include Wareham, Waquoit Bay, Westport, Nantucket Harbors, Wellfleet in Massachusetts; Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Lake Menphremagog in Vermont and New York; and Great Salt Pond on Block Island, R.I.

Several town officials initiated the application process last year in order to place safeguards on the lacal marine resources.

Before granting such status, the EPA makes sure that there are adequate pumpout facilities available so that boaters are not inconvenienced by the new rules. The boaters connect a hose to a fitting on the boat's sanitation device and empty the contents into an on-shore tank for treatment at a sewage treatment plant.

Under the Clean Water Act's "no discharge" designation, only Type III marine sanitation devices -- which are holding tanks that have to be pumped out -- can legally be used. Type I and II marine sanitation devices -- which treat sewage with chlorine, formaldehyde and ammonia compounds or masticate the wastes -- may not be used in coastal wasters.