Patrick-Murray Administration Secures Vessel No Discharge Area Designation for Pleasant Bay on Cape Cod
Latest designation makes more than half of the Massachusetts coastline a no dumping zone
This latest designation, submitted by EEA earlier this year, prohibits the discharge of any treated or untreated waste, protecting one of the most diverse and productive marine habitats on the East Coast. There are now 13 such areas along the Massachusetts coast.
"Cape Cod is a jewel in the Commonwealth's crown of natural resources and a sought-after destination for people around the world," Governor Deval Patrick said. "I am thrilled to announce the protection of another section of the Cape's coastal waters, and proud of the public-private partnership that made the Pleasant Bay No Discharge Area a reality."
"Pleasant Bay and its extraordinary natural resources - from salt marshes to clam flats to the outstanding bay waters themselves - are worthy of the highest levels of environmental protection," said Secretary Bowles. "We are well on our way to meeting Governor Patrick's goal of a statewide coastal No Discharge Area."
Pleasant Bay is a 14-square-mile region with waters in Harwich, Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster. EEA submitted the Pleasant Bay NDA application through its Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) on March 18, capping a year-long effort involving extensive work by the Pleasant Bay Resource Management Alliance in conjunction with the four communities.
The Pleasant Bay NDA joins a growing list of protected state waters. The 12 previously designated NDAs include the following areas:
• 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.
EPA is also currently reviewing EEA's nomination of an NDA for the North Shore from Gloucester to Salisbury. Related efforts to authorize NDAs are underway for Nantucket Sound, Mt. Hope Bay and the outer Cape from Chatham to Provincetown.
"Like all NDA designations, this effort effectively brought together local, state, and federal partners to protect our coastal waters while also making it easy for boaters to properly dispose of their sewage at convenient and strategically located pumpout facilities," said Deerin Babb-Brott, EEA Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Zone Management and CZM Director. "I'd like to thank Carole Ridley and the Pleasant Bay Resource Management Alliance, as well as the communities of Harwich, Chatham, Orleans, and Brewster, for all of their hard work with us to make this NDA designation a reality."
Pleasant Bay is the largest estuary on Cape Cod and is one of the most biologically diverse and productive marine habitats on the East Coast of the United States. In 1987, the Commonwealth approved a nomination from the towns surrounding the Bay to designate the roughly 9,000-acre estuary an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
The Pleasant Bay NDA covers an area that supports over 2,100 recreational and commercial vessels. To comply with the NDA designation, these vessels are now required to make use of the onshore sewage pumpout facilities located in Ryder's Cove, Chatham and Nauset Marine East in Orleans, and the Harwich pumpout boat that services Round Cove.
"With so many Cape-wide efforts to protect our pristine natural resources, this designation of Pleasant Bay as a No Discharge Area is a perfect complement to years of hard work," said Senator Robert O'Leary. "I applaud the administration for working so well with our local and Cape-wide stakeholders in ensuring the future preservation of Pleasant Bay."
"Declaring Pleasant Bay a no discharge zone is a big win for all of us who love this beautiful and unique estuary. This designation is critically important because Pleasant Bay is a nursery for a wide variety of fish and marine life. This is a critical step in keeping the bay healthy," said Representative Sarah Peake.
"I join with the Governor and other Cape delegation members in applauding the addition of Pleasant Bay as a No Discharge Area and look forward to the time when all Massachusetts coastal waters are designated as No Discharge Areas," said Representative Cleon H. Turner
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.
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.
For more information on No Discharge Areas in New England, visit: www.mass.gov/czm/nda and www.epa.gov/region01/eco/nodiscrg.
For more on boat sewage pumpout locations throughout Massachusetts coastal waters, visit www.mass.gov/czm/nda/pumpouts.