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EPA O.K.’s New York's Plan to Ban Boat Sewage in Port Jefferson Harbor Complex

Release Date: 11/05/2001
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(#01133) New York, New York -- In a move that will further improve water quality in Long Island Sound, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) plan to prohibit boats from discharging treated or untreated sewage into Port Jefferson Harbor Complex in Suffolk County, New York. EPA and NYSDEC have determined that there are a sufficient number of pump-out facilities located in the area to receive sewage from vessels. Sewage discharges from boats affect water quality and increase levels of coliform bacteria in the waters of Long Island enbayments. The Port Harbor Complex includes Port Jefferson Harbor, Setauket Harbor, Little Bay, the Narrows and Conscience Bay.

"By prohibiting boat sewage from this area of the Sound, we are augmenting the efforts to control water pollution and restore the Long Island Sound," said William J. Muszynski, P.E., Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "Boat sewage contributes to the overall degradation of marine habitats, shell fish bed closures and can even lead to health problems for swimmers. Because this area has plenty of pump out stations that boaters can use to dispose of their sewage, there’s no need to discharge sewage into this area of the Sound."

"Under Governor George Pataki, New York State has made an unprecedented commitment to clean up and restore the natural beauty and resources of Long Island Sounds," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty said. "EPA’s approval of our "no discharge area" petition for the Port Jefferson Harbor Complex will build on our efforts to protect fragile marine habitats and shellfish beds from vessel discharges and represents another important positive step for the Long Island Sound."

NYSDEC petitioned EPA in November 2000 to establish this "No Discharge Area." EPA proposed approval in April 2001, took public comment for thirty days and is now finalizing its decision. Under national marine sanitation standards, vessels operating in the bay complex are currently prohibited from discharging untreated sewage, but are allowed to discharge treated sewage from approved marine sanitation devices. Now that the "No Discharge Area" is approved, the discharge of both treated and untreated vessel sewage is prohibited.

EPA and NYSDEC have previously banned the discharge of treated boat sewage in Huntington Harbor and Lloyd Harbor and the greater Huntington-Northport Bay Complex, which includes Lower Huntington and Northport Bays, Centerport, Northport, Duck Island Harbors and Price Bend.