Communities and organizations throughout the Massachusetts Bays region are designating their coastal waters as No Discharge Areas (NDAs). NDAs are designated bodies of water where the discharge of all boat sewage, whether treated or not, is prohibited. The goal of both the Commonwealth and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to have all Massachusetts waters designated as an NDA by 2010, and the Massachusetts Bays Program is working on nearly all of the pending NDA proposals.
Upper North Shore
The Eight Towns and the Bay Committee (the Upper North Shore regional partner of MBP) is forming a working group of community members to develop a No Discharge Area designation application to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the U.S. EPA. The designation, if granted, would cover North Shore coastal waters from Cape Ann to the New Hampshire border, as well as the Merrimack River from Newburyport Harbor upstream to the Essex Dam in Lawrence. Within these designated areas, and out to three miles offshore, the discharge of all boat sewage, even if treated, would be prohibited.
NDA designation is sought for waters that are considered ecologically and recreationally significant enough to warrant further protection than that provided by current federal and state laws. In Massachusetts, there are currently eight NDAs, all of them located south of Boston Harbor. Eight Towns and the Bay is being joined by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) in this initiative to help improve water quality for water-based recreation, commercial shellfishing and ecotourism in the Merrimack River waters.
The North and South Rivers Watershed Association (the South Shore regional partner of MBP) received $2,500 from the Bilezikian Foundation for NDA and boat pumpout outreach in the form of magnets and brochures for boaters. The materials will be available for distribution via harbormasters and boater points of contact by the summer of 2008. These new materials are well-timed, as EPA has received the application for the South Shore NDA designation that will include 54 square miles--and nearly 3,000 commercial and recreational boats--of the coastal waters of Marshfield, Scituate and Cohasset, as well as the tidal waters of the North and South Rivers.
On March 31st, The Association to Protect Cape Cod (APCC; the Cape Cod regional partner of MBP) and members of the Cape Cod Bay No Discharge Area Working Group prepared and submitted an application to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) nominating Cape Cod Bay as a No Discharge Area for boat sewage. If designated, Cape Cod Bay would be one of the Commonwealth's largest NDAs, encompassing more than 600 square miles. Cape Cod Bay contains important shellfish and eelgrass resources that would benefit from the additional water quality protection, and Cape Cod communities rely on clean coastal waters for shellfishing, fishing, swimming beaches and many other public uses. APCC also helped secure funding from CZM for the Towns of Dennis and Provincetown to install additional boat pumpouts needed for NDA designation.
Based on the results of the Salem Sound Marine Sanitation Needs Assessment conducted in 2005, Salem Sound Coastwatch (the Salem Sound regional partner of MBP) brought together representatives from the boating community to develop an application for a Salem Sound NDA designation, encompassing the coastal waters of Marblehead, Salem, Danvers, Beverly and Manchester-By-The-Sea. The Salem Sound Working Group consists of harbormasters, health department staff, and representatives from marinas, yacht clubs, Salem Sound Coastwatch, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary , the Beverly Sail & Power Squadron and the Marblehead Sail and Power Squadron . The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is reviewing the NDA application created by the working group, and reviewed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management , for signature. Once the application is reviewed, it will be forwarded to EPA for public comment and final approval (expected to be late May to early June).
Greenscapes Massachusetts is Back!
Greenscapes Massachusetts , which promotes landscapes that protect water resources, is kicking off its fifth year. The Greenscapes Guide is a 20-page resource that contains everything you ever wanted to know about Greenscaping. Free workshops are scheduled on the North and South Shores with leading yard care experts; visit the newly updated Greenscapes website for details.
In the early 1990's, MBP conducted a major scientific research program that laid the groundwork for the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the Massachusetts Bays. Fourteen of these groundbreaking reports are now available to download on the MBP website, with more coming soon!
Produced in May 2008