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Pleasant Bay/Chatham Harbor Now Protected from Boat Sewage Pollution - “No Discharge Area” designation finalized for another Cape bay

Release Date: 07/08/2010
Contact Information: Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – July 8, 2010) – The coastal waters of Pleasant Bay/Chatham Harbor now join all of Cape Cod Bay and most other coastal Massachusetts waters by having attained a “No Discharge Area” designation.

EPA approved a request by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) and the Pleasant Bay Resource Management Alliance to designate Pleasant Bay/Chatham Harbor as a no discharge area. This designation means that the Towns of Chatham, Harwich, Orleans and Brewster are protecting their coastal water quality from boat sewage pollution by prohibiting the discharge of treated and untreated boat sewage in the water body.

“Protecting and enhancing the health of our environment is a core foundation of vibrant and prosperous communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “Especially on the Cape, where people vacation year after year, clean coastal water means more tourists visiting our towns and supporting our economy. Clean coastal water on the Cape means great beach days, bountiful shellfisheries and a resilient tourist economy.”

EPA worked closely with state and local officials, and conducted site visits to the area to determine whether there were sufficient pumpout facilities to serve the boating public.

“The Massachusetts coastline is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “We’re pleased to partner with the EPA and the local community on this effort, which will protect local tidal rivers, harbors, beaches and shellfish beds from pollution for decades to come.”

"This is a great day for Pleasant Bay, and a milestone in the Alliance's efforts to protect water quality for shellfishing, swimming, boating and for the health of the Bay. Securing the NDA designation is one of the Alliance’s long-standing resource management objectives. We appreciate the local encouragement and assistance we received while putting together the application, and the support of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management and US EPA in granting the designation." said Carole Ridley, Coordinator at the Pleasant Bay Alliance.

This particular area has an estimated 2,160 boats, of which 124 are large enough to have a Ahead@ or toilet on board. There are three marinas, several yacht clubs and public boating facilities in the area, and a total of three pumpout facilities in the area. The designation was formalized on July 2 when EPA published the determination in the Federal Register.

The protected area is roughly 9,000 acres and is classified as an Area of Critical Environment Concern. The islands of Pochet, Sampson, Hog, and Little Sipson Islands are held in trust; Strong Island is owned by the town of Chatham and the Chatham Conservation Foundation; and Tern Island is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. The Nauset Barrier Beach is within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The Bay is home to 36 finfish species and an abundance of quahogs, softshell clams, razor clams and scallops. This area is a popular destination for boaters due to its natural environmental diversity.

Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds, and the overall degradation of marine habitats. Adding Pleasant Bay/Chatham Harbor as a “no discharge” area increases the significant portions of New England’s coastal waters that now prohibit boat sewage.

Many other areas in New England already have designated their coastal waters as No Discharge areas these include:

- All state marine waters of
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire;

In Massachusetts: On the Cape and Islands: All of Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Harbor; Waquoit Bay in Falmouth, the harbors of Barnstable, Harwich and Wellfleet; all of Buzzards Bay (including Wareham and Westport). South Shore: Plymouth, Duxbury and Kingston area, Marshfield, Scituate and Cohasset; Boston: Boston Harbor from Winthrop to Hull; North Shore: Salem Sound, Revere, Saugus, Lynn, Nahant and Swampscott. The coastal waters of the Upper North Shore (Gloucester to Salisbury) have also requested a no discharge designation.

In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and Camden/Rockport/Rockland;

More information:
No Discharge Areas in New England (

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