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EPA Proposes to End Discharges of Sewage from Boats into Barnegat Bay

Release Date: 04/01/2003
Contact Information:
(#03027) New York, N.Y. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has moved to designate New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay a “no-discharge area,” which would prohibit boats from releasing treated or untreated sewage into an 85 square nautical-mile area off the coast of Ocean County. EPA has determined that a sufficient number of pump out facilities exist to receive sewage from vessels in the Bay, a criteria for tentatively approving a request made in 2002 by the state of New Jersey for the no-discharge designation. Notice of EPA’s tentative approval appeared in the Federal Register today. The public now has 30 days to comment on the proposal.

“One of the most effective ways to protect our waterways is to end the practice of discharging sewage waste from vessels into bays, rivers and lakes,” said Jane M. Kenny, EPA Regional Administrator. “A no-discharge designation for Barnegat Bay will protect the many New Jerseyans who enjoy this beautiful area, and the shellfish beds that play an important role in the local economy."

Barnegat Bay is a shallow lagoon-type estuary bordered by two barrier islands: Island Beach and Long Beach Island. It provides an important recreational outlet for the people of New Jersey, and supports hard clam and blue crab populations for harvest. Boat sewage in waterbodies like the Bay can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats. A large stretch of the New Jersey shoreline would be protected from this threat if the practice of discharging treated or untreated waste ended in the Bay.

To make a tentative approval of a no-discharge area, EPA must determine that there are adequate pump-out facilities available so that boaters are not overly burdened by the designation. Based on the population of vessels in Barnegat Bay during the boating season, EPA has estimated that the 66 existing pump out facilities and two pumpout boats available to service vessels throughout the Bay are more than sufficient.

Comments on EPA’s tentative approval may be submitted on or before May 1, 2003, and sent to the following address. Members of the public may also request copies of New Jersey’s petition by calling the number listed below.

Walter A. Andrews
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2
Water Programs Branch
290 Broadway, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10007-1866
(212) 637-3880