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Six Cape Cod Towns, plus the National Seashore Seek to Protect Coastal Water from Boat Pollution

Release Date: 04/29/2011
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – April 29, 2011) – EPA is considering a proposal to designate the coastal waters of six towns and the Cape Cod National Seashore as a “No Discharge Area.” If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown.  The area also part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) has petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation, with the town’s and the Cape Cod National Seashore office’s concurrence. EPA has in turn published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days, ending May 29, 2011.

“Protecting coastal water quality and our local environment is a wise step to protect the foundation of vibrant local economies and healthy communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Especially in areas that enjoy robust tourism and a productive shellfishery, EPA applauds these Cape Cod communities and the National Seashore for taking this important step to protect the environment.”

Before EPA will endorse a No Discharge Area designation for any area, the applicant must demonstrate that there are enough “pumpout” facilities where boaters can get their sewage holding tanks pumped out. This particular area has an estimated 519 boats, of which 91 may have a head or toilet on board. There is only one small harbor within the proposed area, which is Nauset Harbor, which does have a pumpout.  Small skiffs owned by the residents of the area are the primary users of Nauset Harbor.  Other vessels that would use the harbor would most likely come from Provincetown Harbor, Pleasant Bay, or Chatham Harbor, all of which are currently NDAs and have pumpout facilities for these boaters.

"Our coastal waters are precious natural resources and recreational opportunities, important to residents and visitors alike," said EEA Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "By keeping bacteria and pathogens from boat sewage out of these precious natural resources, we are ensuring that everyone can enjoy clean water along this landmark stretch of shoreline for years to come."

The majority of the coastline of the proposed area is within the Cape Cod National Seashore.  The National Seashore encompasses 43,500 acres and was established by Congress in 1961 to “preserve the nationally significant and special cultural and natural features, distinctive patterns of human activity, and ambience that characterize the Outer Cape, along with the associated scenic, cultural, historic, scientific, and recreational values”, and to, “provide opportunities for current and future generations to experience, enjoy, and understand these features and values.”

The various beaches, marshes, and harbors and their recreational opportunities attract thousands of visitors to Cape Cod every year. On the eastern shore of Cape Cod, from Chatham to Provincetown there are 24 bathing beaches covering over thirty miles of coastline.

"Like all NDA designations, this is a team effort. Local, state and federal partners are working together to both protect these coastal waters and make it easy for boaters to properly dispose of sewage through convenient pumpout options," said Bruce Carlisle, CZM Acting Director. "I'd like to thank these six Cape Cod communities for their commitment to protecting coastal water quality and habitat."

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: All waters except Mount Hope Bay, Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and Martha’s Vineyard waters.
•         In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and West Penobscot Bay (Camden/Rockport/Rockland);

More information:

- No Discharge Areas in New England (

- How to comment on proposal (!documentDetail;D=EPA-R01-OW-2010-0316-0001 ) Docket number: EPA-R01-OW-2010-0316

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