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Salem Sound and Surrounding Towns Seek “No Discharge” Designation to Stem Boat Pollution

Release Date: 05/16/2008
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – May 16, 2008) – EPA is reviewing a proposal from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the state designation of Salem Sound and the surround town waters of Manchester-by-the-sea, Beverly, Danvers, and Marblehead as a “No Discharge” area.

If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries and the Massachusetts state waters.

The Mass. Office of Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) 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 June 16, 2008.

“Expanding “No Discharge” areas is an important way to improve coastal water quality, and making people’s enjoyment of New England’s coastal areas that much more healthy and enjoyable,” 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 7,000 boats, of which only 3,590 are large enough to have a "head" or toilet on board. There are a total of seven pumpout facilities in the proposed area and two pending pumpout facilities. In addition, there will be a facility on the Beverly pier, once redevelopment is complete. There are approximately 33 marinas and yacht clubs; five public landings and piers; and forty-two beaches located within the proposed No Discharge 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 2006 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.

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

More information: No Discharge Areas in New England (

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