MA Seeks No-Discharge Zone for Cape & Islands

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate state waters south of Cape Cod and the waters surrounding Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard as the South Cape Cod and Islands No Discharge Area (NDA). The designation would prohibit the discharge of any treated or untreated boat sewage in the area, which encompasses 807 square miles.

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.

The nominated area includes 143 bathing beaches covering over 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.

State officials point out that shellfishing in the proposed area is an important commercial and recreational activity, 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 should benefit from the cleaner waters that will come from designating the area as a no-dumping zone for boat sewage,” said a press release from the state.

Secretary Sullivan submitted the South Cape Cod and Islands NDA application through the state’s Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), capping 5 years of extensive work by CZM and 14 communities to ensure the necessary waste pumpout facilities are available for boaters to use. The 14 communities are: Chilmark, West Tisbury, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Gosnold, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and Nantucket.

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.

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