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Release Date: 06/05/1997
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- During a ceremony held in Chatham today, EPA-New England Administrator John P. DeVillars officially designated Stage Harbor a "No Discharge Area" today, prohibiting boats from dumping treated or untreated sewage into the harbor, nearby tidal flats and salt marshes.

The roughly 1,160 boats homeported in the harbor are now required to use pumpout facilities located at the Old Mill Boatyard or Stage Harbor Marine. Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds and the overall degradation of marine habitats. Fifty two acres of shellfish beds are currently closed in Chatham Harbor due to pollution.

"This designation seeks to preserve one of the state's most coveted economic and recreational resources," said John P. DeVillars, administrator for the EPA's New England office. "By making the harbor a 'No Discharge Area,' we'll bring cleaner waters and safer beaches to everyone from the casual beachcomber to the commercial fisherman in this area of the Cape. I look forward to the day when we can designate the entire New England coastline a 'No Discharge Area'."

"I commend the Town of Chatham for its commitment to the waters of Stage harbor and I look forward to the next step; the potential opening of shellfish beds, which will benefit both the commercial and recreational fishermen," said Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs Trudy Coxe.

"No Discharge Area" designations are already in place for 151 miles of Massachusetts coastal waters. The EPA most recently designated Wellfleet Harbor as a No Discharge Area two years ago. Other areas in New England include Wareham, Waquoit Bay, Westport, Nantucket Harbors, Wellfleet in Massachusetts; Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Lake Menphremagog in Vermont and New York; and Great Salt Pond on Block Island, R.I.

Several town officials initiated the application process last year in order to place safeguards on the local marine resources. The EPA approved the State's request for such a designation in April.

Before granting such status, the EPA makes sure that there are adequate pumpout facilities available so that boaters are not inconvenienced by the new rules. The boaters connect a hose to a fitting on the boat's sanitation device and empty the contents into an on-shore tank for treatment at a sewage treatment plant.