MA Proposes New No-Discharge Area

Pump-out Boat. Photo/

The Patrick-Murray Administration yesterday announced the nomination of the eastern shore of Cape Cod, from Provincetown to Chatham, as a No-Discharge Area (NDA), a federal designation that prohibits the discharge of any treated or untreated boat sewage.

The proposed designation, which the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval, would cover 179 square miles. After intensive efforts by the Patrick-Murray Administration, there are now 14 NDAs along the Massachusetts coast, covering 60 percent of state waters. Designation of the Outer Cape NDA would bring the total coverage to 67 percent, with only 2 areas remaining undesignated—Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and Mt. Hope Bay, where work leading to NDA designation is also underway.

MA No Discharge Area

The proposed new NDA would extend from the previously designated Cape Cod Bay NDA in Provincetown to the tip of Chatham, covering the waters within the National Seashore, and including Nauset Harbor. Pleasant Bay was separately designated as an NDA in 2010.

Under the Clean Water Act, a body of water can be designated an NDA if local, state and federal authorities determine that the area is ecologically and recreationally important enough to merit protection above and beyond that provided by existing state and federal laws. In Massachusetts, EEA’s Office of Coastal Zone Management works closely with communities and the EPA to establish NDAs as part of a comprehensive regional water-quality approach.

Secretary Sullivan submitted the Outer Cape Cod NDA application this month, capping a year of extensive work by CZM and 6 communities (Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown) to ensure that there are adequate waste pumpout facilities for boaters to use.

“Like all NDA designations, this was a team effort. Local, state and federal partners worked 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 6 Cape Cod communities for their commitment to protecting coastal water quality and habitat.”

According to the state’s official press release, the town of Orleans and Goose Hummock Marine were instrumental in providing the necessary coverage for Nauset Harbor by respectively purchasing and agreeing to operate and maintain a new shoreside pumpout facility. The town of Orleans will be reimbursed for 75 percent of the cost of purchasing and operating the pumpout facility via the Commonwealth’s Clean Vessel Act Program administered by the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

If approved, the Outer Cape Cod NDA would join a growing list of protected state waters that includes:

  • 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

For more information on No Discharge Areas in New England, visit:

EPA: Massachusetts No Discharge Ares

Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management

A Boaters Guide to No Discharge Areas in New England (pdf)

For more on boat-sewage pumpout locations throughout Massachusetts coastal waters:

Massachusetts Pumpout Facilities

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