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EPA Approves New York Plan To Stop Boats From Discharging Sewage in Bay Waters Near East Hampton

Release Date: 11/05/1998
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(#98151) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- In a move that will further protect areas of the Peconic Bay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to approve a New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) plan to prohibit boats from discharging treated or untreated sewage into the harbors, creeks and bays near East Hampton, New York. EPA and DEC have determined that there are a sufficient number of pump-out facilities located in the area to receive the sewage from vessels. Sewage discharges from boats have been identified as a source of contamination affecting water quality in the Peconic Bay. Vessels will not be allowed to discharge their sewage within the area defined in DEC's plan, called a "No Discharge Area," which includes Northwest Creek, Three Mile Harbor, Hog Creek, Accabonac Harbor, Napeague Harbor and Lake Montauk.

"The discharge of treated sewage from vessels is a source of bacteria and other pathogens that can contaminate shellfish beds and waters used for swimming," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "The designation of these 'No Discharge Areas' will help protect marine life and keep the bathing areas safe."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John P. Cahill said, "In the last two years, using the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act, New York State has devoted unprecedented resources to providing State funding for important water quality projects that will protect and improve the Peconic Bay, the South Shore Estuaries and Long Island Sound.

Establishing this No Discharge Zone and providing convenient pump-out stations will help boaters keep the waters that we all enjoy clean and healthy."

While today's tentative determination is limited to the harbors and bays within the Town of East Hampton, efforts are underway to secure no discharge area designations for harbors and the bays of the other four towns surrounding Peconic Bay. These plans are part of an overall effort to protect and restore the Peconic Bay Estuary, which is made up of a series of shallow, inter-connecting bays fed by groundwater, creeks, and rivers between the twin forks of the eastern end of Long Island. The Peconic Bay Estuary and its 340 miles of coastline support a variety of marine life, birds and wildlife, and are also a vital economic, recreational and scenic resource for Long Island.

In 1992, EPA formally established the Peconic Estuary Program Management Conference, which is made up of federal, state and local governments, and environmental groups and businesses. The Management Conference is developing a plan to address nutrient over-enrichment, coliform contamination, toxic chemical contaminants and brown tide algal blooms. A draft of this plan, called a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), will be released to the public this winter. This draft CCMP will include a section on controlling sources of pathogens, including treated and untreated sewage.

DEC, working in cooperation with East Hampton, petitioned the EPA to establish these "No Discharge Areas" in June 1998. Under national marine sanitation standards, vessels operating in these waters are currently prohibited from discharging untreated sewage, but are allowed to discharge treated sewage from approved marine sanitation devices. The discharge of both treated and untreated vessel sewage is prohibited in "No Discharge Areas." EPA will accept public comments on this proposal during a 30-day public comment period that will begin when the proposal is published in the Federal Register within the next few days.

In addition, the DEC recently awarded East Hampton a $20,000 Clean Vessel Assistance Program (CVAP) grant to build sewage pumpout stations for boaters at Star Island and on Gann Road, which will help facilitate implementation of the No Discharge Zone. In September, DEC provided a $14,000 CVAP grant to the East Hampton Trustees Pumpout Boat.

The CVAP grants, which are funded by the U. S. Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and administered by DEC, support the installation or renovation of pumpout and dump stations for sewage waste to help boaters keep New York's coastal, connected and isolated waters clean. Participating marina owners may be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of the cost of construction and renovations of marina pumpout facilities, up to maximum of $25,000 per facility. To date, DEC has provided $1.66 million in grants for 163 projects at marinas across the state.


For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: mears.mary@epamail.epa.gov