State Wants Salem Sound Protected from Boat Pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing a proposal from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the state designation of Salem Sound and the surrounding town waters of Manchester-by-the-sea, Beverly, Danvers, and Marblehead as a "No Discharge" area, according to a May 16 press release.

If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries and the Massachusetts state waters.

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management petitioned EPA to approve the designation. EPA has published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal until June 16.

"Expanding 'No Discharge' areas is an important way to improve coastal water quality, and making people's enjoyment of New England's coastal areas that much more healthy and enjoyable," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

To qualify for a "No Discharge" designation, the applicant must show there are enough "pumpout" facilities to dispose of sewage in boat holding tanks. This particular area has an estimated 7,000 boats, of which only 3,590 are large enough to have a toilet on board. There are seven existing and two pending pumpout facilities in the area. In addition, there will be a facility on the Beverly pier, once redevelopment is complete. There are approximately 33 marinas and yacht clubs; five public landings and piers; and 42 beaches within the proposed no discharge area.

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