EPA Announces Public Comment Period on Proposal to Ban Dumping Sewage from Boats Into Lake Ontario

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tentatively determined that there are adequate facilities around Lake Ontario for boats to pump out their sewage, allowing the establishment of a “no discharge zone” for 3,675 square miles of the lake, its tributaries and bays, and 326 miles of shoreline that comprise the New York State portion of the lake. The no discharge zone was proposed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A no-discharge zone means that boats are completely banned from discharging sewage into the water. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially-designated pump-out stations. This action is part of a joint EPA/New York State strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into 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. EPA is encouraging public comment on its proposed approval until November 4, 2011.

EPA’s tentative determination is available in the Federal Register at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.

The proposed no discharge zone for the New York State portion of Lake Ontario includes the waters of the lake within the New York State boundary: the Niagara River, including the Niagara River up to Niagara Falls, in the west to Tibbetts Point at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River in the east. The proposed no discharge zone also includes the navigable portions of the Lower Genesee, Oswego and Black rivers and various tributaries, Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Henderson Bay, Black River Bay, Chaumont Bay, and North and South ponds.

Lake Ontario, its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating, and plethora of recreational opportunities. The Lake Ontario watershed is also a source of drinking water for 760,000 people.

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency Stormwater Runoff Group Region 2

Contacts: John Martin, (212) 637-3662martin.johnj@epa.gov and Michael Basile, (716) 551-4410,basile.michael@epa.gov

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