For Immediate Release - June 29, 2012

Patrick-Murray Administration Secures No Discharge Area Designation for Mount Hope Bay

EPA designates the second to last coastal area in the state sewage-free

BOSTON – Friday, June 29, 2012 – Continuing the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to protecting the Massachusetts coastline, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the Commonwealth’s designation of the Mt. Hope Bay as a No Discharge Area (NDA).

With the EPA’s approval of the NDA, the discharge of any treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited 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.

"Mt. Hope Bay was one of the last major remaining areas in Massachusetts that had not  been designated as a No Discharge Area," said Secretary Sullivan. "With this designation, our goal of a statewide ban on boat waste discharge in coastal waters is firmly in sight. I also want to applaud the significant local efforts to protect Mt. Hope Bay from pollution."

Since 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration has won designations for nine NDAs, bringing the total coverage to over 2,000 square miles or 85 percent of Massachusetts coastal waters.

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 Protection (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.

“Protecting coastal waterbodies from boat sewage is a terrific, common-sense way to protect both our local environment and our communities," said Curt Spalding, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 1 Administrator. "We applaud the commitment to a clean and healthy environment illustrated by the communities of Dighton, Berkley, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea and Fall River, as well as by Massachusetts officials. The communities have worked together to make sure infrastructure is in place for boaters to act responsibly and use pumpout facilities.  By protecting our local environment, in reality we are protecting the foundation for vibrant local economies and healthy communities.”

Secretary Sullivan submitted the Mt. Hope Bay NDA application in March of this year 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 the communities 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 applicationand the Division of Marine Fisheries for funding boat waste pumpouts in Mt. Hope Bay. We appreciate the EPA’s continued support in our efforts to ban boat sewage in all state coastal waters.”

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 Department of Fish and Game’s 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.  

“This is great news for shellfish harvesters and all the anglers and boaters who will benefit from cleaner waters in Mount Hope Bay,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin. “The Division of Marine Fisheries’ Clean Vessel Act Program has supported several recreational boat pumpout facilities in the region, and we are happy to contribute to the No Discharge Area designation.”

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.

“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 approved proposal designating 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.”

“This is just one more step in the overall process of protecting this valued and significant South Coast resource”, said Rep. Patricia A. Haddad. “I am even more pleased that the ‘No Discharge Area’ will include my legislative district in its entirety, from Dighton to the north to Somerset to the south and Swansea to the west”.

"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.

“I am very happy and want to thank Secretary Sullivan and others for taking the lead to designate Mt. Hope Bay as a No Discharge Area,” said Rep. David Sullivan. “Mt. Hope Bay is a treasure and contributes to the quality of life in our region. This measure will help us keep our coastal waters clean and protected for years to come.”

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

There are now 16 approved NDAs 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
  • Mt. Hope Bay

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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