Without clean water, the value of the Commonwealth's coast would be vastly diminished. Good water quality is necessary for swimming, boating, fishing, shellfishing, aquaculture, and most of the other activities that draw people to the coast, as well as for healthy coastal habitats. To help support efforts to keep the coastal and ocean waters of Massachusetts clean, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Coastal Water Quality Program includes the following components:

Stormwater/Nonpoint Pollution

  • Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program - These grants provide funding to municipalities in Massachusetts coastal watersheds to reduce runoff pollution from roads, highways, or parking areas and to install municipal boat pumpout facilities for commercial vessels.
  • Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program - The number one pollution problem in coastal waters, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution occurs when contaminants are picked up by rain water and snow melt and carried over land, in groundwater, or through drainage systems to the nearest waterbody. Since 1994, CZM has been leading efforts to address these sources of pollution in Massachusetts coastal waters.

Clean Boating/Marinas

  • No Discharge Zones (NDZs) - NDZs are designated bodies of water where the discharge of all boat sewage, whether treated or not, is prohibited. All of Massachusetts waters are designated as “no discharge” for vessel sewage. CZM supports efforts to increase boat pumpout facilities to make proper sewage disposal more convenient for boaters.
  • Clean Boating - To further support boater efforts to keep coastal waters clean, CZM provides information on boat pumpout facilities for proper boat sewage disposal and on bilge socks to reduce the oil and gas released from boat engines.
  • Marina Management - CZM provides technical assistance and support to marinas to reduce coastal water pollution from pressure washing of boats, hull repair, engine maintenance, fueling, and other services marinas offer to the boating public.

Other Program Activities/Information

  • Federal Consistency Review - As part of its review of federal projects to ensure that they meet state coastal policies, CZM evaluates impacts from discharges permitted through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). In Massachusetts, these permits are developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and then provided to the state for review and approval. These permits cover discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants, power generating facilities, construction sites, stormwater discharges, and a list of industrial activities.
  • Water Quality at State Beaches - CZM also coordinates with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and certain nonprofit organizations to provide information to the public on conditions at coastal beaches throughout Massachusetts. See the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Beach and Algae page for links to annual beach quality reports, water quality information, and other related topics.
  • Publications - This page includes an annotated listing of all CZM publications related to coastal water quality.

In addition, CZM has produced a Coastal Landscaping website , which provides information on water quality protection and other benefits of appropriate landscaping approaches, along with detailed information on how to effectively landscape coastal banks, beaches, and dunes.