Coastal waters of Outer Cape Cod become “No Discharge Area”

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nodischarge-ne-smThe U.S. EPA has approved a petition to designate the coastal waters of Outer Cape Cod as a “No Discharge Area.” It says that the designation means that the Towns Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown are protecting their coastal water quality from boat sewage pollution by prohibiting the discharge of treated and untreated boat sewage into coastal waters.

The action results from EPA approval of a request by the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) to designate Outer Cape Cod waters. The Outer Cape waters join already established no discharge areas for all Cape Cod Bay waters, as well as all Massachusetts coastal waters north to New Hampshire. With this designation of Outer Cape Cod waters, now boats may not discharge treated or untreated sewage into any coastal waters of Massachusetts from the New Hampshire state line south to Chatham.

“EPA is very proud to help these Outer Cape communities take an important step in protecting the health of their coastal areas,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office.  “Especially in summer, we see how a clean and pristine environment is a critical foundation of the Cape’s vibrant tourism economy.  Summer visitors expect to find clean coastal water, and this designation will help ensure that Cape citizens are protecting their environment and their economy.”

EPA worked closely with state and local officials, and conducted site visits to the area to determine whether there were sufficient pumpout facilities to serve the boating public.

“By keeping bacteria and pathogens from boat sewage out of these coastal waters through this new NDA, we are ensuring that everyone can enjoy clean water along this landmark stretch of shoreline,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Secretary Richard K. Sullivan. “We are well on our way to making the goal of designating all state coastal waters as no discharge a reality.”

Since 1993, there has been a substantial increase in available pumpout facilities in Massachusetts.  In that year, there were approximately 50 pumpout facilities available for boaters in Mass., whereas today there are 140 pumpouts along the Massachusetts coastline. The Clean Vessel Act has helped fund the installation and maintenance of pumpout facilities across New England and the nation.  Since 1993, this grant program has provided $187 million to states for projects to construct, replace, renovate and maintain pumpout facilities for recreational boaters.

“Designation of the Outer Cape Cod NDA was a team effort, with local, state and federal partners working together to protect these coastal waters,” said Bruce Carlisle, CZM Director. “I’d especially like to thank these six Cape Cod communities for their commitment to protecting coastal water quality and habitat.”

The majority of the coastline of the newly-protected coastal area is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, a 43,500 acre park encompassing 40 miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds and upland forest, established in 1961 by President Kennedy and Congress.  On August 7, the Cape Cod National Seashore will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The 24 beaches covering over thirty miles of coastline, and their recreational opportunities attract thousands of visitors to Cape Cod every year. The coastal area along the Outer Cape Cod of Massachusetts is important for the tourism and recreation industries of the region.

Boat sewage can lead to health problems for swimmers, closed shellfish beds, and the overall degradation of marine habitats.

Adding Outer Cape Cod as a “no discharge” area increases the significant portions of New England’s coastal waters that now prohibit boat sewage. Other New England coastal waters designated as No Discharge areas include:

  • All state marine waters of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire;
  • In Massachusetts: All waters except Mount Hope Bay, Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and Martha’s Vineyard waters.
  • In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/ Kennebunkport/ Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and West Penobscot Bay (Camden/Rockport/Rockland)

More information on No Discharge Areas in New England (

August 1, 2011

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