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EPA Reviews N.H. Request to Designate Coastal Waters No Discharge Area

Release Date: 07/08/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017
Jim Martin, NH DES, (603) 271-3710

For Immediate Release: July 8, 2005; Release # dd050704

BOSTON - EPA is considering a New Hampshire request to designate its coastal waters as a “No Discharge Area,” where discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within three miles of the shore.

The state has proposed that all of the New Hampshire coastal waters be given this designation. To qualify for a No Discharge designation, the applicant must show there are enough “pumpout” facilities where boaters can get their holding tanks pumped for proper disposal.

A petition requesting EPA approval was submitted by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). The petition was published this week in the Federal Register and is subject to a 45-day public comment period, which will end on August 22, 2005.

“The New Hampshire coastline provides important economic and recreational resources," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Establishing ‘No Discharge Areas’ can help improve coastal water quality throughout New England, resulting in cleaner beaches and shellfish beds, and healthier boating overall.”

The N.H. request calculates that the state’s coastline supports an estimated 4,593 boats, of which only 962 are large enough to have a “head” or toilet on board. The pumpout facilities include five that are fixed or shore based, and one that is a pumpout boat.

New Hampshire was one of the first states in the country to establish No Discharge Areas when it designated all its inland waters as no discharge in 1975. The current N.H. application would emulate the lake boating inspection program on the state’s coastline. Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats.

“A No Discharge Area in New Hampshire’s coastal waters will help to improve water quality by reducing nitrogen and bacteria found in human wastes,” said DES Commissioner Michael Nolin. “New Hampshire’s coastal waters are host to a wide variety of fish and shellfish. Any efforts to help reduce pollution to these sensitive areas will be beneficial.”

If EPA approves the designation request, N.H. will be the second New England state to designate all of its coastal waters as No Discharge.

Other areas in New England with No Discharge areas include:

    • All of Rhode Island’s marine waters, including Block Island’s Great Salt Pond;
    • In Massachusetts: Barnstable, Harwich, Waquoit Bay, Nantucket Harbor, Wellfleet, and Buzzards Bay (including Wareham and Westport);
    • In Connecticut: Stonington Harbor, Groton/Mystic area;
    • In Vermont: Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Lake Memphremagog.
EPA will accept public comments on N.H.’s proposed designation for 45 days (ending on Aug. 22). EPA will also carefully evaluate the State’s request before making a final decision.

Additional information on No Discharge Areas may be found at the EPA’s website at: