Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No Dumping

It’s getting harder and harder to find a place in Connecticut where you can empty your boat’s head into the water. Yesterday the state formally extended the no-discharge area so that it now covers the entire length of Long Island Sound from the Rhode Island border to Guilford. Here’s the Courant’s report. It’s long been illegal to dump untreated waste from boats; the no-discharge designation means it’s now illegal to dump treated waste as well.

Mel Cote, who heads the Ocean and Coastal Protection Unit for EPA's New England region (which includes the Connecticut portion of Long Island Sound), explained the no-discharge designations to me last year. He said it is the states' responsibility to establish no-discharge areas, but that a state can do so only if EPA determines that there are enough alternatives for boaters (the Soundkeeper provides one of the alternatives and is looking to improve its program). Here’s how Mel explained it:

EPA's primary role in designating no discharge areas is determining whether there are enough sewage pump-out facilities to serve the boats (with holding tanks) that use the area in question -- it is the state, often working with local governments, that determines whether they want the additional water quality protection and develops and submits to EPA the application stating the case for why those waters should be designated no discharge. For Long Island Sound, Connecticut has designated its coastal waters from the Rhode Island border to Groton as no discharge, has a pending application into EPA Region 1 to extend that designation to Guilford, and plans to submit an application next year for the remaining coastline from Guilford to Greenwich, completing the designation of all its coastal waters as a no discharge area. No discharge areas on New York's side of the Sound include Mamaroneck Harbor, Huntington Harbor, and Peconic Bay.


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