Mount Hope Bay Seek "No Discharge" Designation to Stem Boat Pollution

EPA is evaluating a proposal from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to designate the state waters of Mount Hope Bay as a “No Discharge Area.”

If approved, discharges of treated and untreated boat sewage would be 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.

The Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (MA CZM) has petitioned EPA to approve the No Discharge designation, with the six towns in concurrence. EPA has in turn published the request in the Federal Register and will accept public comments on the proposal for 30 days, ending on May 12, 2012.

“EPA applauds the communities of Dighton, Berkley, Freetown, Somerset, Swansea, and Fall River for working together to make sure the infrastructure was in place for the boaters.  By protecting our local environment, the communities are actually protecting the foundation for their vibrant local economies and healthy communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

"Our goal of a statewide ban on boat waste discharge in our coastal waters is in sight and I applaud the efforts of our local and federal partners in protecting Mt. Hope Bay from pollution," said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr.

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 523 boats with a Head or toilet on board.

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;
  • In Massachusetts: All waters except Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and Martha’s Vineyard waters.
  • In Maine, Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, Kennebunk/ Kennebunkport/ Wells, Southern Mount Desert area and West Penobscot Bay (Camden/ Rockport/Rockland);

More information:
- No Discharge Areas in New England (
- How to comment on proposal ( Docket number: EPA-R01-OW-2010-0316