South Shore Estuary Now a No-Discharge Zone
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a proposal to prohibit vessel waste discharges within the South Shore Estuary Reserve of Long Island, N.Y. After a public review and comment period, the agency determined that the petition prepared by Peconic Baykeeper and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) meets the criteria outlined by the Clean Vessel Act for establishing a No Discharge Zone.
“This No Discharge Zone designation is an important step toward preserving the unique habitat of the South Shore Estuary Reserve and improving water quality in the area,” said George Pavlou, EPA acting regional administrator. “The designation will help safeguard public health, protect marine life and support local economies that rely on the clean coastal resources of the South Shore Estuary.”
The EPA’s affirmative determination requires that, effective immediately, all boat sewage will now have to be discharged at equipped pump-out facilities. In considering the proposal, EPA took into account the number of available pump-out facilities in the area. The Clean Vessel Act stipulates the adequate number of pump-outs per vessel population as one pump-out per 300 – 600 vessels. Taking into account all reasonably accessible pump-outs in the vicinity, EPA has found that the areas of the reserve meet or exceed this criterion for the safe and sanitary removal of sewage generated by the boat population in the area.
The South Shore Estuary Reserve includes more than 110,000 acres of open water and intertidal areas from East Rockaway Inlet to Shinnecock Bay. Extending from the Queens/Nassau County line east to the Village of Southampton in Suffolk County, the reserve encompasses the homes of 1.5 million people. The relatively calm waters of the South Shore Estuary support many commercial and recreational activities including boating, fishing and tourism. Boat sewage discharge increases levels of potentially harmful coliform bacteria and chemicals such as formaldehyde, nutrients, solids, ammonia, phenols and chlorine affect water quality and harm wildlife habitat.
For a Google Earth aerial view of the South Shore Estuary, go to:www.epa.gov/region2/kml/long_island_south_shore_estuary_no_discharge_zone.kmz. (You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html.)