For Immediate Release - March 29, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Nominates Mount Hope Bay for Boat Waste Discharge Ban

Mt. Hope Bay last major remaining Massachusetts area to be nominated as no discharge

Map of proposed Mt. Hope Bay No Discharge Area

Map of existing No Discharge Areas statewide

BOSTON – Thursday, March 29, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. today submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate the Massachusetts portion of Mt. Hope Bay as a No Discharge Area (NDA).

"Mt. Hope Bay is the last major remaining area in Massachusetts that has not been nominated as a No Discharge Area," said Secretary Sullivan. "With this nomination, I’m proud to say that our goal of a statewide ban on boat waste discharge in coastal waters is in sight. I’m also pleased to support the significant local efforts to protect Mt. Hope Bay from pollution."

The designation would prohibit the discharge of any treated or untreated boat sewage in the area, which encompasses nine square miles, including the Taunton River up to the Center/Elm St. Bridge on the border of Dighton and Berkley, as well as the Lee and Cole Rivers up to their respective Route 6 bridges.

Since 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration has won designations for 10 NDAs covering over 2,000 square miles or 85 percent of Massachusetts coastal waters. This is the final major area of state waters to be nominated and with this designation, boat sewage discharge will be prohibited in almost 95 percent of state waters — with only a few remaining areas to be addressed, including temporary exclusions for commercial ferry operators building the necessary infrastructure and mapping idiosyncrasies.

NDAs protect water quality and aquatic life from pathogens, nutrients and chemical products contained in discharged boat sewage and also reduce the risk of human illness, making it safer to swim, boat, fish and eat shellfish from protected waters.

The Mt. Hope Bay NDA designation will help to ensure that the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standard for bacteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Projection (MassDEP) in July 2010 can be met. The TMDL standard calls for zero sewage discharge from boats, and the designation of the NDA would satisfy this requirement. Banning the release of boat sewage also supports other local efforts to remove bacteria from these waters, including efforts by the City of Fall River to control the bacteria, nutrients and other pollutants associated with combined sewer overflows. NDAs can also help reduce the growth of harmful algae that occurs due to nutrient levels in sewage.

“EPA applauds the effort to help more Massachusetts coastal communities protect the health of their coastal waters,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “A large segment of Mt. Hope Bay's local economy is based on a clean and healthy coastal environment that supports tourism, shellfishing and abundant habitat for wildlife. Establishing a No Discharge Area in Mt. Hope Bay will help protect one of the final remaining waterways in Massachusetts that is not already protected from treated and untreated boat sewage.”

Secretary Sullivan submitted the Mt. Hope Bay NDA application through the state's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), capping years of extensive work by CZM, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), and the municipalities of Fall River and Somerset to ensure the necessary waste pumpout facilities and services are available for boaters to use. The NDA also has the support of Berkley, Dighton, Freetown and Swansea, as well as The Taunton River Watershed Alliance, Massachusetts Audubon, and Save the Bay.

"Designating No Discharge Areas requires teamwork," said Bruce Carlisle, CZM director. “I’d like to thank all of the communities that have worked with CZM to develop this application, as well as the Division of Marine Fisheries for funding boat waste pumpouts in Mt. Hope Bay communities and the EPA for their continued support in our efforts to ban boat sewage in all state coastal waters.”

By the time the NDA is expected to become effective early this summer, there will be three boat sewage pumpout facilities in accessible locations throughout the area to make compliance with the no discharge requirements convenient for boaters. Both Somerset and Fall River have recently received assistance for the cost of purchasing and operating their pumpout facilities via the Commonwealth’s Clean Vessel Act (CVA) Program, administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Sportfish Restoration Program. The Town of Somerset recently received funding from the CVA Program to install a shoreside pumpout facility at the Town’s School Street boat ramp on the Taunton River, and also has recently purchased a new pumpout vessel.

In addition, the City of Fall River anticipates purchasing a new, larger pumpout vessel in fiscal year 2013, which will allow the city to support the NDA.  

“The Division of Marine Fisheries’ Clean Vessel Act Program uses federal funds to partner with municipalities and marinas in providing boat pumpout services in Massachusetts’ coastal waters,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin. “These pumpout stations help keep our coastal waters clean and are a key component to achieving no discharge status.”

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

Due to efforts by the Patrick-Murray Administration, nearly the entire Massachusetts coast has been designated as NDA. On March 5, EEA nominated the South Cape Cod and Islands NDA. Once the South Cape Cod and Islands NDA and the Mt. Hope Bay NDA are designated, over 95 percent of state waters will be no discharge for boat sewage.

“I am very pleased with the Administration’s decision to submit Mount Hope Bay to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a designation as a no discharge area,” said Sen. Marc Pacheco. “Discharge into our state’s oceans and water sources is a serious issue and we need to ensure we protect our environment adequately.”

“I applaud the continued efforts of Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan in recognizing the significance of protecting our coastal waters,” said Sen. Michael J. Rodrigues. “The proposed designation of Mount Hope Bay as a No Discharge Area is a reflection of the collective efforts of our South Coast communities, including Fall River, Freetown, Somerset and Swansea, working with the Office of Coastal Zone Management to ensure our coastal waters remain protected for future generations to enjoy in the years ahead.”

"I am happy to support this application and I offer my appreciation to Secretary Sullivan and Coastal Zone Management for their dedication to helping protect our Bay," said Rep. Kevin Aguiar.

“This is yet one more initiative that will aid us in cleaning up our historic river and bay,” said Rep. Patricia A. Haddad.

“Our river and bay are tremendous and valued resources and I am pleased that Secretary Sullivan is working to prevent negative impacts to them by pursuing a No Discharge Area," said Rep. David Sullivan.

These 15 NDAs are already designated in Massachusetts coastal waters:

  • Outer Cape Cod (the coastal waters from Provincetown to Chatham, including Nauset Harbor)
  • 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, please visit: www.mass.gov/czm/nda and www.epa.gov/region01/eco/nodiscrg. For more on boat sewage pumpout locations throughout Massachusetts coastal waters, see: www.mass.gov/czm/nda/pumpouts.

CZM is the agency within EEA charged with protecting Massachusetts’ approximately 1,500-mile coast. Through educational and regulatory programs, CZM seeks to balance human uses of the coastal zone with the need to protect fragile marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities anticipate and plan for sea level rise and other effects of climate change, working with cities and towns and the federal government to develop boat sewage no-discharge areas, and partnering with communities and other organizations to restore coastal and aquatic habitats.

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