Jun 04, 2010

EPA, N.Y. DEC Ban Boat Sewage Disposal to New York Canal System

Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially designated pump-out stations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the entire New York State Canal System is now a “no discharge zone,” which means that boats are banned from discharging sewage into the canals. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially designated pump-out stations.

EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck and DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis were joined by New York State Canal Corp. Director Carmella R. Mantello and Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President and CEO Matthew J. Driscoll along the canal to mark the boat sewage discharge ban, and to announce a new, comprehensive strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into any of the state’s waterways.

Discharges of sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and impair marine life.

“Pumping sewage from boats into local waters is a practice that is both harmful and completely unnecessary,” Enck said. “Boaters should access facilities into which they can pump their waste and we can move toward eliminating this source of pollution in New York’s waterways once and for all.

“Clean water is one of New York’s most important assets. It is disturbing, in this day and age, to have boaters discharging sewage into our treasured waterways. Today’s announcement is an important step toward cleaner water.”

"This will have an important and immediate impact, making the water cleaner, making recreation on the Erie Canal more enjoyable and restoring habitat for fish and other aquatic life," Grannis said. "By acting today, we are providing benefits for generations to come."

"This effort will help to protect, preserve and enhance the water quality in our Canal system statewide and ensure that this water way continues to play an important role in the communities in which it serves and for all New Yorkers in the years to come,” Driscoll said.

The New York State Canal System declared a “no discharge zone” is 524 miles long and includes the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain and Oswego canals. These four canals link the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River. Prior to the ban, vessels operating in these waters were allowed to discharge treated sewage from approved marine sanitation devices.