Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


Upper North Shore Now Protected from Boat Sewage Pollution / "No Discharge Area” now extends from Cape Cod Bay to Southern Maine

Release Date: 08/05/2010
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Aug. 5, 2010) – With the designation of the Massachusetts Upper North Shore coastal waters as a No Discharge Area, the coastal area of Massachusetts state waters, from the New Hampshire state line down to Cape Cod Bay, will be cleaner and healthier because they are better protected from boat sewage.

EPA has approved a request by the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) to make this designation for the Upper North Shore. No Discharge designation means that the Towns and Cities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence have chosen to protect their coastal water quality from boat sewage pollution by prohibiting the discharge of treated and untreated boat sewage in the water body.

“This is a major piece of the puzzle for Massachusetts to protect one of the last large areas of coastline from boat sewage,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “EPA applauds all the communities across the Commonwealth and across New England, who have recognized that protecting and enhancing the health of our environment is closely linked to preserving vibrant and prosperous communities. Clean coastal water means more tourists visiting our towns and cities and supporting our economy. Clean coastal water on the Upper North Shore means great beach days, bountiful shellfisheries and a resilient economy.”

EPA worked closely with state and local officials, and conducted site visits to the area to determine whether there were sufficient pumpout facilities to serve the boating public.

“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, 60 percent of state waters,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles. “By keeping bacteria and pathogens from boat sewage out of these coastal waters, we are protecting valuable coastal habitat used by recreational boaters, swimmers and the commercial fishing industry.”

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. The designation was formalized on July 27
when EPA published the determination in the Federal Register.

The designated 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 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. The coastal area along the upper North Shore 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. The area also encompasses a state Area of Critical Environment Concern (ACEC).

“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.”

Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds, and the overall degradation of marine habitats. Adding Upper North Shore as a “no discharge” area increases the significant portions of New England’s coastal waters that now prohibit boat sewage.

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: On the Cape and Islands: All of Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Harbor; Waquoit Bay in Falmouth, the harbors of Barnstable, Pleasant Bay, Chatham Harbor, Harwich and Wellfleet; all of Buzzards Bay (including Wareham and Westport). Boston South Shore: Plymouth, Duxbury and Kingston area, Marshfield, Scituate and Cohasset; Boston Harbor; Boston North Shore: Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen, and Lawrence Salem Sound, Revere, Saugus, Lynn, Nahant and Swampscott.

In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and Camden/Rockport/Rockland;

More information:
No Discharge Areas in New England (

# # #

Follow EPA New England on Twitter: