In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the state’s designation of all of Massachusetts waters as a No Discharge Zone (NDZ)—which capped a 23-year effort with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) working hand-in-hand with cities and towns, harbormasters, environmental groups, marinas, and commercial vessel operators to ensure that there was local support for NDZs and that a sufficient number of pumpout facilities were readily available. Throughout this process, CZM formed and maintained a close working relationship with EPA to move the NDZ designation process along smoothly and successfully.

The Massachusetts NDZ effort started in 1991 with the coastal waters of Wareham being designated as the first NDZ on the East Coast. Since then, 20 NDZs ranging from as small as 1 square mile (the coast of Harwich) to as large as 730 square miles (Southern Cape Cod and Islands) were designated until the entire 2,533 square miles of Massachusetts waters were covered. The results are cleaner coastal waters and convenient pumpout options for boaters along the entire Massachusetts coastline. Below is a list of designations with their respective years and areas.

NDZ AreaYearArea
(square miles)
Waquoit Bay, Falmouth19943
Stage Harbor, Chatham19961
Harwich Coastal Waters19981
Buzzards Bay2000277
Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury200664
Boston Harbor200885
Cape Cod Bay2008638
Salem Sound200854
Scituate, Marshfield, Cohasset200850
Lower North Shore200934
Pleasant Bay201014
Upper North Shore2010155
Outer Cape Cod2011176
Mount Hope Bay201210
Southern Cape Cod and Islands2012733
Ferry Corridors and Western Mass Bay2014166
Total 2533