On Friday morning Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard J. Sullivan, US EPA New England Region Administrator Curt Spalding and Costal Zone Management Director Bruce Carlisle were at Aselton Park in Hyannis to celebrate the approval of a new no discharge areas (NDA) in Massachusetts.
"This is the welcome culmination of years of effort, piece by piece, to protect the Massachusetts coast and coastal waterways," said Sen. Dan Wolf. "I congratulate everyone involved, especially Secretary Sullivan, for clearing the last obstacles so that this important environmental protection can apply throughout our state."
NDA’s are designated bodies of water where the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited. Recreational and commercial vessels are now required to store sewage on board until it can be brought to a designated pumpout facility. The new NDA includes South Cape Cod and the Islands.
Clean coastal waters are important for Cape Cod and the Islands, with recreation and tourism the cornerstone of these coastal economies. This area includes 143 bathing beaches covering more than 26 miles of shoreline. In addition to roughly 15,000 resident vessels, an estimated 700 to 800 visiting recreational boats regularly travel these waters during the summer, according to a press release.
Shellfishing is another important commercial and recreational activity in the area, with bay scallops, soft-shell clams, surf clams, blue mussels, oysters and quahogs harvested in these waters. The value of recreational shellfish harvesting alone is more than $7 million each year in Barnstable County. These and other commercial and recreational pursuits will all benefit from the cleaner waters that will come from designating the area as a no-dumping zone for boat sewage.
This designation comes on the heels of the announcement in June of the approval for the Mount Hope Bay NDA, which encompasses nine square miles, including the Taunton River up to the Center/Elm Street Bridge on the border of Dighton and Berkley, as well as the Lee and Cole Rivers up to their respective Route 6 bridges.
There are now 29 boat sewage pumpout facilities in accessible locations throughout the area to make compliance with the no discharge requirements convenient for boaters. Several of the 14 coastal communities have at one time received reimbursement for 75 percent of the cost of purchasing and operating their pumpout facilities via the Commonwealth’s Clean Vessel Act Program, administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Sportfish Restoration Program, according to a release.
“The Massachusetts approach to designating NDAs has been to work hand-in-hand with our cities and towns, harbormasters, environmental groups, marinas, and others,” said Bruce Carlise, CZM Director. “I would like to thank everyone who has helped make the NDAs that now cover our coastline a reality. It has been a privilege working with all of these people who are so committed to keeping our coastal waters clean.”
Under the Clean Water Act, a body of water can be designated as an NDA if local, state and federal authorities determine it is ecologically and recreationally important enough to merit protection above and beyond that provided by existing state and federal laws. In Massachusetts, CZM works closely with communities and EPA to establish NDAs as part of a comprehensive regional water quality approach.
Sixteen NDAs have been previously designated:
- Outer Cape Cod (the coastal waters from Provincetown to Chatham, including Nauset Harbor)
- Upper North Shore (the coastal waters of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury [including the Merrimack River in Amesbury], West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence)
- Pleasant Bay (Brewster, Orleans, Harwich and Chatham) and Chatham Harbor
- The coastal waters of Revere, Saugus, Lynn, Nahant and Swampscott, including the Pines and Saugus Rivers
- All of Cape Cod Bay
- Boston Harbor (the coastal waters of Winthrop, Chelsea, Everett, Boston, Quincy, Milton, Weymouth, Braintree, Hingham and Hull, including the Charles River in Watertown, Newton and Cambridge)
- Salem Sound (the coastal waters of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Danvers, Salem and Marblehead)
- The coastal waters of Cohasset, Scituate and Marshfield
- The coastal waters of Plymouth, Kingston and Duxbury
- All of Buzzards Bay
- Waquoit Bay in Falmouth
- The coastal waters of Harwich
- Three Bays/Centerville Harbor in Barnstable
- Stage Harbor in Chatham
- The coastal waters of Nantucket from Muskeget Island to Great Point, including Nantucket Harbor
- Mount Hope Bay