We continue to be amazed that there is still anywhere that this is legal, but it’s true.
Beginning this summer, boaters are expected to be barred from releasing on-board sewage anywhere in Long Island Sound, under federal regulations nearing final approval. On April 11, the Environmental Protection Agency gave preliminary approval to designation of the New York portion of Long Island Sound as a “no-discharge zone,” pending determination that there are adequate facilities to pump the sewage from vessels, according to Mark Tedesco, director of the EPA’s Long Island Sound Office based in Stamford. A public hearing period to accept feedback on the ban will run through May 30.
Connecticut designated its portion of the Sound as a “no-discharge zone” in 2007 following similar measures taken in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to ban the release of treated and untreated sewage from vessels along the coastline.
The ban should enhance the impact of the Connecticut ban and head off any confusion about what the rules are, said Rick Huntley, supervising environmental analyst for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection‘s Long Island Sound Programs.
On-board systems designed to kill sewage pathogens rarely include levels to reduce harmful nitrogen levels, and, over time, can become less effective at treating discharged waste, Huntley said.
“You can think you are doing the right thing and actually not be,” Huntley said. “People do want to comply because there is an element of self interest in bringing it back to shore and having it pumped through a treatment plant, because they want to have clean water to boat in.”
Chris Hynes, commodore of the Stamford Yacht Club, said the New York ban should help improve the Sound’s overall health, which he said has gradually gotten better over the past two decades.
“Twenty years ago, you would sail through streaks of sludge that didn’t look healthy, but I haven’t seen anything like that in recent years,” Hynes said.