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Three Coastal Massachusetts Towns Seek “No Discharge” Designation to Stem Boat Pollution

Release Date: 04/11/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 11, 2008) – EPA is formally proposing to approve the Massachusetts designation of the Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset harbors as a “No Discharge” area. If approved, this status means that discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within Massachusetts state waters.

The Mass. Office of Coastal Zone Management has petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation. EPA has in turn published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days, until May 12.

“The request by the state to designate the Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset harbors as a no discharge area is an important step towards improving coastal water quality in New England waters,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

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. MA 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.

Other areas in New England with No Discharge areas 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 Casco Bay, Maine.

More information:

- No Discharge Areas in New England (

- How to comment on the proposed designation (

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