Maine Towns Apply for 'No Discharge' Designation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering a proposal from the state of Maine to designate the coastal waters of Kennebunkport, Kennebunk, and Wells as “No Discharge Areas.” If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be prohibited within the town boundaries.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (ME DEP) has petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation. EPA has in turn published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal until Jan. 12, 2009.

“Kennebunkport, Kennebunk, and Wells are classic New England coastal destinations. By taking this important step towards improving coastal water quality, they are also moving to protect one of their most critical economic resources,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

Before EPA will endorse a No Discharge Area designation for any area, the applicant must demonstrate that there are enough “pumpout” facilities where boaters can get their sewage holding tanks pumped out. This particular area has an estimated 537 boats, of which only 195 are large enough to have a "head" or toilet on board. There are a total of five pumpout facilities in the proposed area.

The proposed no discharge area is important ecologically as well, as it includes the Wells National Estuarine Research Center and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife refuge. The intertidal zone includes diverse habitats, from rocky shores to wetlands, tidal flats and nearly 20,000 acres of salt marshes. The area also contains over 670 acres of essential habitat for the federally endangered Piping Plover and Lest Tern.

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