“No Discharge Zone” Designation for the South Shore Estuary
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today hailed the federal approval of a measure that will significantly improve water quality in the South Shore Estuary. Effective immediately, more than 110,000 acres of the South Shore estuary’s waters are now designated as a “No Discharge Zone” and the release of sewage from boat toilets and holding tanks is prohibited.
“The approval of a No Discharge Zone for the South Shore Estuary is wonderful news for the region’s marine habitat, and the cleaner water will also lead to better shellfishing and recreational opportunities for all Long Islanders,” Commissioner Grannis said. “We thank our many partners, especially the Peconic Baykeeper, for working together to develop and implement this designation and look forward to seeing the many benefits this enhanced protection will provide.”
The South Shore Estuary Reserve extends from the Nassau-Queens county line to the eastern end of Shinnecock Bay. In April, DEC submitted a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting that the South Shore Estuary Reserve be designated a No Discharge Zone to ban the discharges of treated or untreated sewage from boats.
Treated and untreated wastes can deliver pathogens and toxins to local waters and contribute to harmful nutrient loadings. Waste treated by on-board septic systems often contains chemical additives such as formaldehyde, phenyls and chlorine. There are currently 12 No Discharge Zones designated in New York State, including today’s announcement. The others are: Lake George, Lake Champlain, Hudson River water intake zones, Mamaroneck Harbor, Peconic waters-East Hampton, Huntington-Northport Bay Complex, Port Jefferson Complex, Peconic Estuary, the Hudson River Estuary, Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor and Hempstead Harbor. DEC has submitted a petition to designate a No Discharge Zone for the waters of the New York State Barge Canal System and is developing a petition for the New York portion of the Long Island Sound.
DEC’s request to EPA to add the South Shore Estuary to the list of No Discharge Zones originated with a petition submitted by Peconic Baykeeper to DEC on behalf of the towns of Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton and the Fire Island National Seashore, which have jurisdictions that include these water bodies. The petition focused on the need for additional water quality protection and the availability of area pumpout facilities in the area that boats could use as an alternative to discharging sewage.
Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper said: “The proposed No Discharge Zone is an important step towards protecting the waters of the South Shore Estuary Reserve. While there are a number of complex issues threatening the health and vitality of our waters, establishing a No Discharge Zone will have a meaningful and immediate effect on local water quality.”
DEC collaborated with the New York State Department of State to certify the need for greater protection and enhancement of these waters. The state Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) is also involved in the preparation for the designation by providing support for the establishment of pumpout facilities, as well as education and outreach. Through the New York State Clean Vessel Assistance Program (CVAP), which EFC manages under a contract with DEC, federal grants are available to public and privately owned marinas for pumpout facilities for the proper disposal of sewage waste from recreational boats. CVAP has provided more than $4.8 million for pumpout facilities statewide.
Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vasquez said: “As chairperson of the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Council, I applaud the work of the state agencies and the Peconic Baykeeper that led to the designation of the estuarine bays in the Reserve as a Vessel Waste No-Discharge Zone. The designation is a significant step towards a healthier ecosystem and cleaner water in the Reserve. It bolsters the investment and efforts of the New York State Department of State and its partners on the Reserve Council to improve the water quality of the South Shore bays and their tributaries, to protect the habitats for the bays’ aquatic species, and to enhance the region’s economy and maritime heritage.”
New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Acting President Matthew Millea said: “Designating the New South Shore Estuary as a ‘No Discharge Zone’ will ensure that the water quality of this invaluable recreational and tourism destination is protected and preserved for many years to come. We are pleased to work with our state partners and communities along this waterway to provide boaters with the services needed to keep this waterway clean.”
The No Discharge Zone will be enforced by DEC Police, the New York State Police, the New York State Park Police, Suffolk County police, sheriff offices, local police officers, harbormasters and bay constables.
by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation