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EPA Designates "No Discharge Area" Off Coast of Cape Cod

Release Date: 05/23/2001
Contact Information: Amy Miller, Press Office, (617) 918-1042

BOSTON - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it is planning to approve the creation of a No Discharge Area in Barnstable, which would prohibit boaters from discharging treated or untreated septage waste into the Three Bay/Centerville Harbor area on the south shore of Barnstable.

The proposed designation, which includes the specific boundaries of a proposed No Discharge Area, was publicized this week in the Federal Register with a request for public comment. The boundary line includes approximately three square miles (2,150 acres) and encompasses Cotuit Bay, West Bay, East Bay and Squaw Island Marsh.

"Septic waste from boats can be a significant contributor to pollution in the waters off Cape Cod," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The No Discharge Area we are creating off the coast of the Cape will bring us one step closer to improving water quality off Barnstable and designating No Discharge Areas across all of New England's coastline.."

Once the designation is final, the roughly 1,667 boats based in the Three Bay/Centerville Harbor area will be required to use pumpout facilities located at the Oyster Harbor Marine, or hail the pumpout boat, which is docked at the Oyster Harbor Marine. Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats.

The town's health officials initiated the application process last year in order to place safeguards on the local marine resources.

"This No Discharge Area is part of the nutrient management program we are implementing over the next five to six years and beyond. This is the first step in protecting all of Barnstable's waters," said Dale Saad, the town's coastal health resource coordinator.

Before it designates a No Discharge Area, EPA makes sure adequate pumpout facilities are available to boaters.

EPA's announcement follows its approval last summer of Buzzards Bay as a No Discharge Area. Other No Discharge Areas in New England include: Harwich, Wareham, Waquoit Bay, Westport, Nantucket Harbors, Wellfleet in Massachusetts; Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Lake Menphremagog in Vermont and New York; and all of Rhode Island marine waters, including Great Salt Pond on Block Island. More information on No Discharge Zones are available from:

A 30-day comment period begins May 23 and ends 5 pm June 25. Information requests or comments may be sent to Ann Rodney, U.S. EPA New England Region, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Water Quality Unit (CWQ), 1 Congress St., Boston, MA 02114-2023, called in to (617) 918-1538, or sent by email to