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EPA Announces Second Opportunity for Public Comments on Proposed Ban on Boat Sewage Dumping into Lake Erie

Release Date: 09/27/2013
Contact Information: Mary Mears (212) 637-3673; mears.mary@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reaffirmed its initial determination that there are adequate facilities around Lake Erie for boats to pump out their sewage. The determination will allow the establishment of a “no discharge zone” for 593 square miles of the lake, its tributaries and bays, and 84 miles of shoreline that comprise the New York State portion of the lake. The EPA is providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the boat sewage dumping ban for a second time. The EPA initially made a determination in December 2012 that adequate sewage pump out facilities exist and that the state’s proposal to designate areas of Lake Erie as a “no discharge zone” can go forward. The EPA received significant comments questioning the availability of sewage pump-out facilities, particularly for larger vessels, and the EPA conferred with New York State to gather more information. That information gathering is now complete and the EPA is confirming its original opinion that there are adequate facilities.

      “Declaring this area of Lake Erie a ‘no discharge zone’ would provide cleaner water for Lake Erie and the people who use the lake,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that Lake Erie has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the lake.”

      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. 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. The EPA is encouraging public comment on its proposed approval until October 28, 2013.

      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 Erie includes the waters of the lake from the Pennsylvania-New York State boundary, as well as the Upper Niagara River and numerous other tributaries, harbors and bays of the Lake, including Barcelona Harbor, Dunkirk Harbor and the Buffalo Outer Harbor.

      Lake Erie, its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating, and plethora of recreational opportunities.

      For more information about no discharge zones, visit http://epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html. For the notice that appeared today in the Federal Register, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-27/pdf/2013-23688.pdf.

      To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov, Fax: (212) 637-3891. Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

      Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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