Southern Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard Protect Coastal Water from Boat Pollution

In a major milestone completing the protection of more than 95 percent of Massachusetts coastal waters from boat-generated sewage pollution, EPA has designated the coastal waters of Nantucket, Vineyard Sounds and the Islands, and Mt. Hope Bay as “No Discharge Areas.”

With this designation, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage are prohibited within the town boundaries of Chilmark, West Tisbury, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Gosnold, Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Chatham and Nantucket; and within the waters of Mt. Hope Bay.

Furthermore, with these final designations, it means that all the coastal waters of Massachusetts, and all waters between Long Island Sound and the New Hampshire – Maine border benefit from curtailing boat discharges of treated and untreated sewage.

“EPA is thrilled that Massachusetts has achieved this significant milestone in protecting coastal water quality and our local environment. We applaud each and every community, and regional and state officials, all of whom have done the important work to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment providing the foundation for a vibrant economy and healthy communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “There are few environments more special than the beaches and bays of Massachusetts, and now our citizens and visitors can rest assured that we are doing everything we can to protect these cherished environments.”

"Our environment and economies depend on safe and productive coastline," said Massachusetts Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan. “With this designation, nearly all of our coastal waters are protected from boat pollution, providing clean resources for tourism and recreational activities like swimming and fishing and habitat for marine life.”

The designation of Nantucket, Vineyard Sounds and the Islands includes 143 bathing beaches, 26 miles of coastline and encompasses approximately 733 square mile of state waters. EPA and the Commonwealth have worked on this designation for more than five years, due to the substantial issues in involved.  All parties sat down and worked through each issue.  Two years ago the “Island Queen” bought a pumpout boat to make sure they would be in compliance.  The Steamship Authority worked out a schedule for retrofitting their vessels and installing the pumpout facilities for their vessels. 

The designation for Mt. Hope Bay means that discharging boat sewage is prohibited within the town boundaries of Dighton, Berkley, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea, and Fall River.  Mount Hope Bay is a shared waterbody between Mass. and R.I. and in 1998 Rhode Island designated all their state waters as no discharge, including Mount Hope Bay. 

Many other areas in New England already have designated their coastal waters as No Discharge Areas.

These include:
•  All state marine waters of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire; and now nearly all in Massachusetts;
•  In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport/Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and West Penobscot Bay (Camden/Rockport/Rockland)