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3 Coastal Massachusetts Towns – Cohasset, Marshfield and Scituate – Gain “No Discharge” Designation to Stem Boat Pollution

Release Date: 06/03/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 3, 2008) – EPA is has approved a request to designate the harbors of Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset, as well as surrounding coastal waters, as a “No Discharge” area. This status means that discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage are prohibited within these Massachusetts state waters.

In April, the Mass. Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation. Following consideration of the request, and a 30-day public review and comment period, EPA approved the request to protect these coastal waters from boat sewage. This is an important milestone in EPA’s plan to designate the entire New England coastline.

We applaud Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset for taking this important step to protect their coastal waters," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "No Discharge areas are bringing tangible water quality improvements throughout Massachusetts and the region – this means cleaner beaches, cleaner shellfish beds and cleaner boating.

"As a Kingston resident, I know healthy coastal waters are so important to South Shore communities--and I'm thrilled that we at CZM could help make this designation a reality," said Leslie-Ann McGee, Director of the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). "Preventing boat sewage discharge to these waters gets us closer to Governor Patrick's goal of making the entire coastline a No Discharge Area, protecting the coastal environment for everything from swimming and sailing to shellfishing."

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 3,000 boats, of which only 1,363 are large enough to have a head or toilet on board. There are a total of ten pumpout facilities in the proposed area, four fixed shore-based facilities, three portable facilities, and three pumpout boats. In addition, there are two pending pumpout facilities which should be operational in the summer of 2008. There are approximately eight marinas and docking areas, and five public boat ramps.

Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats. The three towns’ harbors are adjacent to the Plymouth area, which was designated as a No Discharge area in 2006.

The towns of Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset initiated the No Discharge Area designation process in the summer of 2007 to safeguard local marine resources. CZM held an informational meeting in the area where staff presented an overview of the proposed area for designation, outlined the designation process, described the beneficial environmental impacts of establishing the No Discharge Area and received input from the public.

Many other areas in New England already have designated their coastal waters as No Discharge areas, or are in the process of doing so. 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;
      - In Maine, Casco Bay;
      - Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog in Vermont.

More information:

- No Discharge Areas in New England (

- EPA’s designation in the Federal Register (

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