Patrick-Murray Administration Gains Vessel No Discharge Area Designation for North Shore
Latest designation makes 60 percent of state coastal waters a no-dumping zone
The designation prohibits the discharge of any treated or untreated waste in the new North Shore NDA, which encompasses the 176 square miles of state waters from Gloucester to the New Hampshire border, including the tidal portion of the Merrimack River up to the Essex Dam in Lawrence. After intensive efforts by the Patrick-Murray Administration, there are now 14 such areas along the Massachusetts coast. Only three areas of state coastal waters remain undesignated -- Nantucket Sound, Mt. Hope Bay and the outer Cape from Chatham to Provincetown -- and work is underway to create NDAs in these areas as well.
Secretary Bowles submitted the North Shore NDA application through the state's Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) on March 18, capping two years of extensive work by CZM and 16 communities to ensure that there are adequate waste pumpout facilities for boaters to use. The 16 communities are: Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Groveland, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence.
"This critical piece in the NDA puzzle gives us continuous no discharge coverage all the way from the New Hampshire border to the tip of Provincetown, 60 percent of state waters," said Secretary Bowles. "By keeping bacteria and pathogens from boat sewage out of these coastal waters, we are protecting valuable coastal habitat used by recreational boaters, swimmers and the commercial fishing industry."
"This is a major piece of the puzzle for Massachusetts to protect one of the last large areas of coastline from boat sewage," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "EPA applauds all the communities across the Commonwealth and across New England, who have recognized that protecting and enhancing the health of our environment is closely linked to preserving vibrant and prosperous communities. Clean coastal water means more tourists visiting our towns and cities and supporting our economy. Clean coastal water on the Upper North Shore means great beach days, bountiful shellfisheries and a resilient economy."
With the designation of the North Shore NDA, nearly 60 percent of state waters are now no-dumping zones for boat sewage. NDAs cover Massachusetts coastal waters from New Hampshire to Provincetown (including Essex Bay, Boston Harbor, Salem Sound and Plymouth-Kingston-Duxbury Bay), Buzzards Bay, Waquoit Bay in Falmouth, Three Bays/Centerville Harbor in Barnstable, Chatham's Stage Harbor, Pleasant Bay and Nantucket waters from Muskeget Island to Great Point.
"Like all NDA designations, this was a team effort. Local, state and federal partners worked together to both protect these coastal waters and make it easy for boaters to properly dispose of sewage through convenient pumpout options," said Deerin Babb-Brott, EEA Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Zone Management and CZM Director. "I'd like to thank these 16 North Shore communities for their commitment to coastal water quality."
The North Shore NDA covers an area that supports over 5,600 recreational and commercial vessels. To comply with the no discharge designation, these vessels are required to use a holding tank for sewage and pump out at one of the 13 facilities in the region -- eight pumpout boats (Gloucester, Rockport, Ipswich, Rowley, Newburyport, West Newbury and Salisbury harbormaster boats and the Cape Ann Marina boat in Gloucester) and five stationary facilities (Cape Ann Marina, Gloucester; Perley's Marina, Rowley; Riverfront Marina, Newbury; Cashman Park, Newburyport; and Marina at Hatter's Point, Amesbury).
"I am pleased with the EPA's announcement to create a no discharge area in the Upper North Shore as it only adds to our efforts at the state level to protect our coastal waterways," said Rep. Bill Straus, chairman of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee. "The creation of a continuous no discharge area will go a long way in protecting one of our greatest natural resources."
NDAs protect water quality and aquatic life from pathogens, nutrients and chemical products contained in discharged sewage and also reduce the risk of human illness, making it safer to swim, boat, fish and eat shellfish from protected waters. NDAs can also help reduce the growth of harmful algae that occurs due to high nutrient levels in sewage discharge and protect commercial clam fishing flats.
Under the Clean Water Act, a body of water can be designated an NDA if local, state and federal authorities determine that the area 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 the EPA to establish NDAs as part of a comprehensive regional water quality approach.
The Upper North Shore NDA joins a growing list of protected state waters. The 13 previously designated NDAs include the following areas:
- coastal waters of Pleasant Bay with waters in Harwich, Chatham, Orleans and Brewster;
- 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;
- coastal waters of Cohasset, Scituate and Marshfield;
- coastal waters of Plymouth, Kingston and Duxbury;
- all of Buzzards Bay;
- Waquoit Bay in Falmouth;
- coastal waters of Harwich;
- Three Bays/Centerville Harbor in Barnstable;
- Stage Harbor in Chatham; and
- 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.