Contact Us


All News Releases By Date


5 Coastal Mass. Towns Stem Boat Pollution as Salem Harbor Gains “No Discharge” Designation

Release Date: 06/25/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – June 25, 2008) – EPA has approved a request to designate Salem Harbor as a “No Discharge” area. This status means that discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage are prohibited within the Massachusetts state waters of Beverly, Danvers, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead and Salem.

In May, the Mass. Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), in partnership with Salem Sound Coastwatch, 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 Salem and the neighboring towns for taking this important step to protect our 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. Taking this step is responsible stewardship, and means cleaner beaches, cleaner shellfish beds and cleaner boating for Salem Sound.”

"This new No Discharge Area for Salem Sound complements Governor Patrick’s overall goal of making the entire Massachusetts coastline off-limits to boat sewage discharge,” CZM Director Leslie-Ann McGee said. “Designation of this NDA is the culmination of a cooperative effort by local, state, and federal officials and stakeholders along the North Shore – all of whom have signaled their ongoing commitment to cleaner coastal waters.”

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 7,000 boats, of which only 3,590 are large enough to have a head or toilet on board. There are a total of eight pumpout facilities in the proposed area, five fixed shore-based 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 19 marinas, 14 yacht and five public landings and piers; and 42 beaches in the area.

Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats. The Salem Sound Coastwatch initiated the No Discharge Area designation process in the summer of 2007 to safeguard local marine resources.

“We are thrilled with the increased protection that the NDA designation will bring to the coastal waters of Salem Sound,” said Barbara Warren, Executive Director of Salem Sound Coastwatch. “We’re pleased that all the cities and towns were on board to make this happen and we’re confident that boaters will take advantage of the pump-out facilities in the area,” she continued.

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; and Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset;
- In Maine, Casco Bay;
- Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog in Vermont.

More information: - No Discharge Areas in New England (

# # #