New York State's No Discharge Zones
Vessel Waste No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designations are a key component of a larger strategy for protecting all coastal waters of New York State. Most of these coastal waters and connecting waterways are already designated as No Discharge Zones, where it is illegal to discharge sewage from boats and boaters are required to use appropriate pump-out facilities, available at many marinas, to dispose of sewage.
The following table lists waterbodies in New York that are currently designated as No Discharge Zones. For more information, including maps of these NDZs, visit the EPA Region 2 No Discharge Zone webpage (a direct link is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page).
NYSDEC recently proposed an NDZ designation for Seneca and Cayuga Lakes in Central New York. These two inland lakes are considered coastal connecting waterways because they are part of the NYS Canal System. An NDZ Designation Petition (PDF, 1.1MB) has been reviewed and the proposed NDZ tentatively accepted by EPA. EPA is accepting comments (off-site link) on this proposal through May 17, 2015.
|Coastal Waterbody||Year Designated as a
No Discharge Zone
|Hudson River, water intake zones||1995|
|Hudson River Estuary||2003|
|Huntington-Northport Bay Complex||2000|
|Long Island Sound||2011|
|New York State Canal System||2010|
|Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor||2008|
|Peconic Waters, East Hampton||1999|
|Port Jefferson Complex||2001|
|Seneca and Cayuga Lakes||pending|
|South Shore Estuary Reserve||2009|
What is a No Discharge Zone?
A No Discharge Zone designation means that it is illegal for boaters to discharge on-board sewage into the designated waterbody. This includes treated sewage, as well as untreated sewage. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at pumpout stations.
Sewage from boats often contains harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which harm water quality, pose a risk to people's health, and impair marine life and habitats.
Federal law prohibits the discharge of untreated boat sewage within most navigable waters of the U.S. To take water quality protection a step further, DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working to prohibit sewage discharges to New York's coastal waters and navigable connecting waterways - which are not covered by the federal law - by designating them as No Discharge Zones.
Future No Discharge Zones in New York
In 2010, New York State and EPA Region 2 announced a joint initiative to establish NDZs in the remaining coastal waters and navigable connecting waterways of the State. Since then, NDZ designations have been established for the New York State Canal Systems, the New York portion of Long Island Sound, Jamaica Bay, and the New York portions of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The remaining coastal waters without NDZs are the St. Lawrence River, New York Harbor waters, and easternmost Long Island South Shore. Approval of petitions for these remaining waters would complete the goal of NDZs in all coastal New York waterways.
Pumpout Facilities in New York
Boaters are required to use appropriate pumpout facilities in any waterbody designated as a No Discharge Zone. The Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) maintains a list of pumpout facilities in New York on its Clean Vessel Assistance Program webpage. A direct link is in the "Links Leaving DEC's Website" section of the right-hand column of this page. Visit DEC's New York State Pumpout Facilities webpage for more information and the locations of pumpout facilities on waterbodies with recently requested No Discharge Zones: Seneca and Cayuga Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Solicitation for Commercial Vessel Pumpout Information
As noted above NYSDEC has joined with USEPA to establish NDZs in the remaining coastal waters of the state. Establishing an NDZ requires a determination that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels (both recreational and commercial) are reasonably available for proposed NDZ waters. While information regarding pumpout facilities for recreational vessel is generally available, similar information for commercial vessels can be more difficult to come by.
Therefore, NYSDEC is soliciting additional information from commercial vessel operators, port operators, boat pumpout facility operators, sewage removal companies, and other stakeholders regarding the adequacy of available pumpout facilities and other options for the removal of sewage from commercial vessels that use the New York State portions of Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River. (Information regarding commercial vessels in New York Harbor will also be accepted, however efforts to establish an NDZ in New York Harbor will be coordinated through the NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program.)
Specifically of interest to NYSDEC:
- How many commercial vessels that would require pumpout facilities operate in the NYS portion of Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River?
- How much sewage do these vessels typically hold, individually and collectively? How often do these vessels need to discharge sewage, and where do they currently do so?
- What are the most common routes of travel in these waters and where do these vessels typically dock?
- Are sewage pumpout trucks generally are available to serve commercial vessels on the New York side of Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River and if so, how many such services are there?
- Are sewage pumpout boats available to serve commercial vessels in those waters, and if so how many of them and where do they operate?
- Regarding the pumpout trucks and vessels, above, what is their sewage holding capacity, how long does it take to pump the full capacity of each vehicle, and how much does the service cost?
- Are there any constraints on the ability for commercial vessels in these waters to use either pumpout trucks or pumpout boats to discharge their sewage? If so, please explain.
Please forward responses to this solicitation to: NYSDEC Bureau of Watershed Assessment and Management (Attn Jeff Myers) at 625 Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-3502, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that this is not a formal public notice and comment, and any findings developed through this process, as well as any proposed determination by EPA on DEC petitions to establish future NDZs, will be subject to formal public notice and comment before being made final, and the failure to submit information in response to this request will not preclude any interested party from commenting on any findings contained in a proposed determination.