State seeks to ban ocean dumping of sewage

Aug. 9, 2004

The state Department of Environmental Services in New Hampshire is requesting that the federal government formally designate the state's coastal waters a "no-discharge" area to protect shellfish beds and keep beaches clean.

In New Hampshire, it is curently illegal to discharge untreated sewage in all fresh water and in saltwater within the 3-mile territorial limit of the United States, according to Alicia Carlson, the Clean Vessel Act Program coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Services.

Legally a boat can discharge treated sewage into coastal waters if they are not in a federally-designated no-discharge zone, stated Carlson.

"A no-discharge area is an area where no boat sewage can be discharged at all," she said.

To ensure that boats dispose of their sewage properly, The Clean Vessel Act provides money to states. New Hampshire has used its share to install four pump-out stations at marinas that boaters can use for a charge of up to $5

"The amount of bacterial pollution from one weekend boater's discharge is equal to the amount from the treated sewage of 10,000 people during the same period of time," said Jody Connor, director of the Limnology Center for the Department of Environmental Services. "This is going to be a big plus in cleaning up coastal waters."

Alan Benet, an insurance broker from Basking Ridge, N.J., had the 25-gallon tank on his 37-foot sailboat pumped at the Wentworth by the Sea Marina last weekend during a cruise up the coast.

He said it makes ecological sense to dispose of his boat's waste properly instead of dumping it straight into the ocean and that he supports efforts to ban the dumping of untreated sewage.

On Thursday, August 12th, The state and the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public forum for boaters on the proposal at the Wentworth by the Sea Marina.

Source: Boston Globe