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Puget Sound

EPA's Final Determination on "No Discharge Zone" for Puget Sound

On March 1, EPA reaffirmed its determination that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels are reasonably available in Puget Sound.

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For questions, please contact Catherine Gockel (gockel.catherine@epa.gov), 206-553-0325.

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EPA's Determination

On February 13, 2017, EPA issued its final affirmative determination that adequate sewage pump-out facilities are available for recreational and commercial vessels to support the Washington Department of Ecology’s proposed No-Discharge Zone for Puget Sound.

This determination does not itself constitute the designation of a no-discharge zone. Rather, the Department of Ecology may now in its discretion finalize the proposed designation in accordance with State law.

See Documents below to read EPA's full determination.

Reaffirmation of EPA's Determination

EPA’s determination that adequate facilities are "reasonably available" for the safe and sanitary removal and treatment of vessel sewage in Puget Sound was challenged in court (American Waterways Operators v. EPA, No. 18-2933 (D.D.C.).

On November 30, 2020, the Court remanded the administrative record to EPA with instructions to further consider three specific issues. On March 1, 2021, EPA filed a status report informing the Court that it has completed its further consideration of the issues set forth in the summary judgment order.

Based on that further consideration, EPA reaffirmed its determination that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels are reasonably available in Puget Sound.

See Documents below to read EPA's reaffirmation and supplemental information.

Summary of Washington State's Proposal

The Washington Department of Ecology proposed to establish a No-Discharge Zone for Puget Sound which would prohibit the discharge of vessel sewage - both treated and untreated - into Puget Sound waters.

Ecology’s petition concluded that there is sufficient need for establishing a no-discharge zone to protect water quality and the related ecological, economic, and recreational benefits provided by Puget Sound.


EPA's Role

Under Section 312 of the Clean Water Act, the EPA’s role for this particular type of no-discharge zone designation (commonly known as a "312(f)(3) NDZ") is to determine whether adequate pump-out facilities for recreational and commercial vessels are reasonably available. EPA’s final determination was based on information that the Department of Ecology included in its petition package and a supplemental submission.

Public Comments

EPA’s final determination also considered over 40,000 comments received from individuals, environmental organizations, vessel associations, boating and yacht clubs, industry representatives, port authorities, federal, county, local and tribal governmental entities, and other interested groups.

EPA provided a 45-day comment period on the availability of pump-out facilities. Comments were due December 23, 2016 (extended from December 7 in response to stakeholder requests).

Visit regulations.gov to view comments received (public docket).

See Documents below to read EPA's responses to public comments received.


Related Information


Documents

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