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Eleven Cape Communities Limit Boat Pollution with “No Discharge” Designation in Cape Cod Bay - Largest single protected area in the Northeast

Release Date: 07/14/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – July 14, 2008) – With state and local backing, EPA is designating Cape Cod Bay as a “No Discharge” area. This status means that discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage are prohibited within these Massachusetts state waters, including the Towns of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans, Brewster, Dennis, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Sandwich and Bourne. The designation is for the single largest area of protected coastal waters in the Northeast.

In May, the Mass. Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), in partnership with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Nantucket Soundkeeper, and the towns on the Cape Cod Bay side petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation. Following consideration of the request, and a 30-day public review and comment period, EPA will approve the request to protect these coastal waters from boat sewage.

“Cape Cod is cherished by hundreds of thousands of people throughout New England and beyond. Putting this important protection in place will help safeguard people’s enjoyment of this special, beautiful place,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “Achieving this designation for Cape Cod Bay is a major milestone in EPA’s effort to protect the entire New England coastline from boat sewage. These Cape communities are leading the way nationally about how we can better protect our environment.”

"The designation of a No Discharge Zone in Cape Cod Bay is a victory for the grass-roots organizations on Cape Cod who worked tirelessly on this issue, for the state as a whole, and for the people who come from all over the world to visit this special region of the Commonwealth," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. "With this key piece of the puzzle, we are well on our way of achieving Governor Patrick's goal of a statewide NDA covering all of the state's coastal waters."

To qualify 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 Association to Preserve Cape Cod, the Nantucket Soundkeeper and MA Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) initiated the No Discharge Area designation process in the summer of 2007 to safeguard local marine resources. Working together, the groups held informal meetings 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.

"It's been an honor to work on the NDA designation as part of the Working Group. We want to thank the towns, harbormasters and organizations who supported the NDA and made it possible. We look forward to helping to designate the next NDA on the south side of Cape Cod," said Maggie Geist, Executive Director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.

"Today's designation is vital not only to protect Cape Cod Bay, but also to set the stage for another critical NDA designation over on the other side of Cape Cod, in Nantucket Sound, which we hope can take place in short order now and create an envelope of protection for both sides of this peninsula," said Susan Nickerson, Executive Director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and Nantucket Soundkeeper.

With today’s designation, there will be one continuous No Discharge Area for the coastline of Massachusetts from Provincetown all the way to the end of Boston Harbor in Winthrop.

In addition, 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 and Buzzards Bay (including Wareham and Westport), Plymouth/Duxbury/Kingston area, Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset, Salem Sound, and Boston Harbor.
- In Maine, Casco Bay;
- Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog in Vermont.

More information:

- No Discharge Areas in New England (

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