EPA weighs no-discharge zone in Massachusetts

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The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a proposal to designate the coastal waters of six Massachusetts towns and the Cape Cod National Seashore as a "no-discharge area," the agency announced.

If it is approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries of Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. The area also is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management has petitioned the EPA to approve the no-discharge designation, with the towns and the National Seashore office's concurrence.

EPA has, in turn, published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal for a 30-day period that ends May 29.

"Protecting coastal water quality and our local environment is a wise step to protect the foundation of vibrant local economies and healthy communities," Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the EPA's New England office, said in a statement. "Especially in areas that enjoy robust tourism and a productive shellfishery, EPA applauds these Cape Cod communities and the National Seashore for taking this important step to protect the environment."

Many other areas in New England already have designated their coastal waters as no-discharge areas. They 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).

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