Boat No Discharge Application

A Boat Sewage No Discharge Area

Application for the waters of Buzzards Bay

A request by the Buzzards Bay Action Committee on behalf of the municipalities of Buzzards Bay


February 9, 2000

This application was prepared by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program at the request of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee and in partnership with the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management office.


Buzzards Bay is about 30 miles long, averages seven miles wide and covers 210 square miles. It consists of approximately 250 miles of diverse and irregular coastline and includes 28 major embayments. The eleven municipalities surrounding Buzzards Bay (Fig. 1) have deep and lasting ties to the coastal environment and the sea. The citizens of this region enjoy the coast, with many directly or indirectly relying on it for their livelihood.
In response to the need to protect and restore water quality and living resources in Buzzards Bay and its watershed, in 1991, Buzzards Bay municipalities, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the US EPA endorsed and approved the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). This Management Plan was written by the Buzzards Bay Project National Estuary Program based on a characterization of water quality problems facing Buzzards Bay and solutions offered by scientists, managers and citizens of the watershed. One important recommendation in the Buzzards Bay Management Plan is that the waters of Buzzards Bay be designated as a boat sewage “No Discharge Area.”
Over the past several years, Buzzards Bay municipalities have made significant commitments to restoring and protecting the bay’s valuable coastal resources. Most notably these actions include the City of New Bedford’s $150 million upgrade of its sewage treatment facility from primary to advanced secondary treatment and the City’s successful effort to eliminate dry weather combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges.
Equally important has been a bay-wide reduction in inputs associated with discharges from failed septic system and cesspools. These improvements were the result of more improved and more rigorous local enforcement, as well as the state’s extensive 1995 revisions to the State Environmental Code, Title 5 (310 CMR 15.00), Standard Requirements for the Siting, Construction, Inspection, Upgrade and Expansion of On-site Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems and for the Transport and Disposal of Septage. The effort to upgrade septic systems has been supported by state and municipal funding of septic system betterment loans to pay for upgrades where there is financial need. These code changes have resulted in the systematic replacement of cesspools and failed septic systems in the Buzzards Bay watershed and throughout the state.
Another factor in improved water quality in Buzzards Bay has been the implementation of numerous stormwater remediation projects by municipalities. Some of these stormwater remediation projects have been prompted by funding from the Buzzards Bay NEP, through Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management’s (MCZM) Coastal Pollution Remediation program, or the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) 319 program. Many other projects, however, have been funded solely by Buzzards Bay municipalities. These ongoing remediation efforts, together with the municipal adoption of local stormwater bylaws, the issuance of a statewide Stormwater Management Policy, and the promulgation of regulations and standards under the state’s Wetlands Protection Act, have set the stage for continued improvement in stormwater management.
With respect to managing sewage from boats, Buzzards Bay municipalities, the Buzzards Bay NEP, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have provided considerable funding to ensure that an adequate number of pumpout boats and dockside pumpout facilities exist in Buzzards Bay. The amount of this expenditure is thought to have exceeded several hundred thousand dollars. Through Chapter 91 of MGL (Waterways Licensing Program) the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has also been requiring facilities at public and private marinas as part of the issuance or renewal of Chapter 91 licenses. Acquisition by the State of Clean Vessel Act funds has helped pay for both municipal and private boat pumpout facilities, and this funding has been an important factor in ensuring an adequate number of boat pumpout facilities. The large number of mobile and stationary pumpout facilities that now exist in Buzzards Bay has helped pave the way for this application.
Perhaps the best indicators of success of improved management of wastewater and stormwater in Buzzards Bay have been the improved water quality, reopened shellfish beds (Fig. 2), increased use of beaches, and a better general awareness of the value and fragility of our coastal ecosystem by the public.
While action continues by state and local government to address land-based sources of pollution contributing to the closure of shellfish beds and adverse water quality in Buzzards Bay, the municipalities of Buzzards Bay recognize that sewage discharges from recreational and commercial vessels also contribute to the degradation of coastal water quality.
The discharge of sewage by vessels is primarily regulated by Section 312 of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA). By establishing requirements for marine sanitation devices (MSDs) on boats and enabling states to apply to the EPA for the authority to prohibit all discharges, Section 312 enables states to eliminate the discharge of treated sewage into waters of the United States. Section 312(f)(3) of the CWA allows states to apply to the EPA to designate certain water bodies as No Discharge Areas (NDAs). Once designated by the EPA, the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited within the NDA. Approval of a NDA application is contingent upon documentation by the state that there is a need for NDA designation and that “adequate facilities for safe and sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels using such waters are reasonably available” (CWA 312[f][3]).
Already in Buzzards Bay, the Towns of Westport and Wareham have had their waters designated as boat No Discharge Areas. In accordance with Section 312 (f)(3), the Buzzards Bay Action Committee, on behalf of the municipalities of Buzzards Bay, submit this application to seek a NDA designation for all the remaining coastal waters within Buzzards Bay from Westport, at the Rhode Island border, to the railroad bridge at the Cape Cod Canal, to Penzance Point in Falmouth and across the channels in the Elizabeth Island Chain, and following the Town of Gosnold and Town of Westport political boundaries back to the Rhode Island border. A map of the proposed designated area and coordinates are shown in Figure 1. The designation is for Buzzards Bay waters. The use of MSD types I and II are already prohibited in inland waters. The list of the BBAC signatories endorsing and submitting this application is shown in Table 1.
Table 1. List of Buzzards Bay Action Committee member signatories endorsing this No Discharge Zone Application

Acushnet: Richard H. Settele Director, DPW
Bourne: Haydon Coggeshall Selectman
Dartmouth: Michael J. Gagne Executive Secretary
Fairhaven Jeffrey W. Osuch Executive Secretary
Falmouth: Christopher Polloni BBAC Representative
Marion: Al Winters Selectman
Mattapoisett: Carol Adams Executive Secretary
New Bedford: Scott Alphonse Environmental Engineer
Rochester: Harry Brown BBAC Representative, former Selectman
Wareham: Joseph Murphy Town Administrator
Westport Marjorie A. Holden Selectman


Explanation of MSD types and practical implications of a NDA

Boats that have toilets (marine heads) have one of three types of marine sanitary devices (MSDs). It is believed that on average, 15% to 30% of boats in coastal waters may have MSDs (see estimates below specific to Buzzards Bay).
Some boats also use removable portable heads called “port-a-potties.” These systems use little water for flushing and therefore only collect human wastes and whatever deodorizing/disinfecting chemicals are added by the boat operator. They generally have holding capacities of 2 to 5 gallons. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, regulates these portable heads through Title 5 of the State Sanitary Code, and the Department of Environmental Protection prohibits the discharge of wastes from these temporary marine heads into marine and freshwater. They also cannot be dumped into toilets served by septic systems. After use, these portable heads are carried off boats and must be dumped at a waste receptacle commonly referred to as a “dump station” or a toilet hooked up to a sewer (sometimes discouraged). Some Buzzards Bay harbor masters have estimated that these systems are most often used on boats between 18 and 26 feet.
Marine heads installed on boats of 65 feet or less must be serviced by one of three types of marine sanitation devices (MSDs). Type I and Type II MSDs macerate and disinfect waste with chlorine or other disinfectants. The Type I MSD treats the waste to a level not to exceed 1000 fecal coliform/100 ml and the Type II MSD treats to a level not to exceed 200 fecal coliform/100 ml and 150 mg/l suspended solids. Both Type I and Type II immediately discharge upon flushing. Types I and II MSDs are permitted under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to discharge into all coastal waters.

A serious problem with Type I and II MSDs is that boat owners do not always maintain disinfectant supplies in these marine heads so that some “treated” boat discharges are actually undisinfected ground up raw sewage.

Type III MSDs are holding tanks that prevent discharge of sewage near shore. These systems typically use chlorine, alcohol, or other disinfectants, primarily to deodorize waste while it is stored in the holding tank. Because these chemicals are not of sufficient concentration to treat or disinfect the boat sewage, these holding tanks are considered to have “untreated” sewage. The discharge of untreated sewage (including from Type III MSDs) is prohibited in marine waters within 3 miles of shore or within the territorial seas which includes all of Buzzards Bay because it is bounded by an island chain. Thus, it is currently illegal to discharge Type III MSDs in Buzzards Bay.

Boats larger than 65 feet, must use either Type II or Type III MSDs. Type III MSDs are often fitted with piping (a Y-Valve) to enable sewage to be discharged overboard, but this discharge is prohibited in Buzzards Bay as noted above. All large vessels like ferries and passenger liners traveling through Buzzards Bay have Type III MSDs. Because most large commercial boats have Type III MSDs, and the discharge of these devices are already prohibited in Buzzards Bay, a NDA designation in Buzzards Bay will not affect these vessels.

In practical terms, a no-discharge designation for Buzzards Bay will affect only a small percentage of boat owners. At most, 1/3 of all boats on Buzzards Bay have marine heads (toilets). Based on recent interviews with Harbor Masters and Marina operators, of these boats, 85% of are believed to have Type III MSDs (holding tanks), which by law already cannot be discharged in Buzzards Bay. The remaining 15% of marine heads are either Type I or II, but it is generally believed Type Is are very rare. Most boats today are sold with Type IIIs, and many boat owners are already voluntarily converting their boats to Type IIIs. Thus, the actual effect of a No Discharge Designation is to prohibit the use of Type I and Type II MSDs, which represent only 5% of all boats in Buzzards Bay, and to encourage responsible disposal of vessel sewage from Type III MSDs.


Buzzards Bay has more than 250 miles of diverse coastline and covers 210 square miles. These coastal waters represent interrelated maritime and commercial interests, including tourism. Clean waters and open shellfish beds have a direct benefit to the varied commercial and recreation interests, and to the quarter million residents of the Buzzards Bay watershed.
Uses of Buzzards Bay Waters

Since colonial times, an extensive shoreline, a multitude of natural harbors, and the high quality of its adjacent coastal waters have all played significant roles in the financial well-being and, indeed, the social development of Buzzards Bay municipalities. From its earliest times, the number of harbors and their accessibility to adjacent waters contributed significantly to the emergence of Buzzards Bay as a center for coastal and transoceanic transportation and international maritime commerce. Similarly, the quality of Buzzards Bay waters, reflected in the health and abundance of its near shore and marine life, gave rise to the prominence of the Buzzards Bay commercial and recreational fishing and shellfishing industries still in existence today.

The accessibility to and the quality of Buzzards Bay waters continues to make it an important commercial and recreational economic resource in the state. Traditional coast-related activities such as maritime commerce and commercial fishing and shellfishing still contribute significantly to the area’s economy. The continued importance of the commercial fisheries industry to the Massachusetts economy is illustrated by the fact that in 1990 approximately $12 million worth of finfish, shellfish, and lobster were harvested recreationally and commercially from Buzzards Bay.

Today, in response to changing societal conditions and needs, public (and private) uses of, and activities associated with, the coastal zone have expanded to include new industries such as recreational finfishing and shellfishing; recreational boating; habitat preservation; swimming; passive recreation such as whale- and bird watching; and tourism. Indeed, viewed collectively, the cumulative value of these non-traditional activities to the local economy may, in fact, now outweigh those traditionally associated with coastal states. Clearly, the ability of the coastal zone to sustain these evolving uses is dependent on the presence of active and informed stewardship strategies, the goal of which must be to protect coastal water quality contributing to healthy coastal ecosystems.

In addition to their obvious societal importance, present uses of Buzzards Bay waters contribute significantly to the Massachusetts economy. For example, in 1998, recreational and commercial shellfishermen in Buzzards Bay towns harvested 2.8 million pounds of softshell clams and quahogs alone, more than 40% of the state total of 8.2 million pounds for those two species, and worth approximately $2.4 million, which adds $19.2 million to the local economy. Very importantly, as a result of aggressive remedial action by Buzzards Bay municipalities, in part supported by funding through the Buzzards Bay NEP, MCZM’s CPR program, and DEP’s 319 Program, shellfish beds have been reopened in Buzzards Bay (Fig. 2). This reduction in closures, together with cooperative efforts by the towns and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, has resulted in more shellfish bed areas being no longer classified as permanently closed. Rather, the acreage of conditionally opened shellfish beds has been increasing. That is, more shellfish beds are now open, except during rainfall conditional closures, or closed only during the summer. Some of these summer closures are the result of very high boat populations and the concern of potential discharge of untreated, treated (operational Type Is and Type IIs), or poorly treated sewage (from improperly maintained Type I and II MSDs) from these boats.

Lying within a day’s drive of a quarter of the nation’s population, the Massachusetts coast has been a strong influence in making tourism and recreation, with associated jobs, the largest single component of the state’s economy. Buzzards Bay waters, including such popular beaches as Horseneck Beach in Westport (near the Rhode Island border), and Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, are popular day trip locations for southern New England. In addition to swimming and beach recreation, the Buzzards Bay coastline also attracts visitors interested in activities such as hunting, bird and wildlife watching, walking, fishing, and boating. The calm waters of Buzzards Bay are especially popular with boaters and fisherman, and many notable sailboat races are held in Buzzards Bay.

While the value of high water quality is difficult to quantify, the presence of human pathogens, floating debris, and the quality and safety of our coastal resources has great bearing on the public use and perceptions about Buzzards Bay.

The Need for Water Quality Protection and a No Discharge Area Designation for Buzzards Bay

Many potential sources of pollution can contribute to the general degradation of coastal water quality. These pollution sources were included in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), with recommended management solutions. Included among these recommendations, as a primary concern, is the prevention of treated and untreated discharges from boats. This recommendation was included in the CCMP because the discharge of treated, untreated, or partially treated (from improperly maintained MSDs) sanitary wastes from recreational and commercial boaters in Buzzards Bay, including the chemicals used to deodorize and disinfect this sewage, can significantly degrade coastal water quality. In many locations, the potential discharge of boat wastes to near shore resource areas has resulted in seasonal closures of shellfish beds and represents a potential threat to swimming beaches.

Sanitary waste discharges from boats can contribute a variety of pollutants to coastal waters. In addition to bacteria, oxygen-consuming matter, and nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen, toxic substances associated with disinfectants and chemical additives used to treat boat waste, such as chlorine, formaldehyde, and zinc compounds, can also be introduced to coastal waters. While the effect of treated or untreated sewage from a single boat may have little measurable impact, the cumulative effects of sewage discharges from recreational and commercial vessels using Buzzards Bay waters may contribute to the overall degradation of coastal water quality. Studies conducted in the Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and the Chesapeake Bay have demonstrated that boats can be a significant source of fecal coliform bacteria in coastal waters; particularly in quiet, protected waters, harbors, and rafting areas, with high boat densities, poor circulation, and low hydrologic flushing (EPA, 1991). These waters are also common locations for sensitive coastal resource areas containing productive shellfish beds, fish spawning and nursery habitats, large areas of submerged vegetation, and desirable swimming beaches.

When coliform levels exceed allowable thresholds, shellfish beds and swimming areas are closed temporarily to minimize public health risks. Further, with respect to shellfish bed closures in the vicinity of marinas, these closures by MA DMF are often permanent due to the increased potential for contamination from boat discharges. A NDA area designation cannot eliminate these required closures, but could reduce the buffer closure around marinas.
Resources Most Likely to Benefit from a No Discharge Area Designation for Buzzards Bay

The following waters within Buzzards Bay are most likely to benefit from a NDA designation:

  • Sheltered waters that are poorly flushed
  • Shellfish habitat
  • Waters of significant recreational value
  • Nursery areas for aquatic life
  • Waters that do not meet state-designated usage
  • Waters of national significance
  • Geographic areas and waters of local and regional significance
  • Back River and Pocasset River ACECs
  • Outstanding Resource Waters
  • Waters currently designated as No Discharge Areas

Sheltered Waters That Are Poorly Flushed

Coastal embayments (any small coastal estuary, bay, or lagoon) have reduced flushing with offshore waters making them more susceptible to the effects of treated and untreated boat sewage discharges and other pollution inputs. This flushing or hydraulic turnover time depends upon the length of the embayment and the narrowness of the embayment mouth. Figure 3 shows Buzzards Bay embayments and their degree of flushing. Any embayment with restricted flushing may benefit from a boat sewage no discharge designation.

Shellfish Habitat

Buzzards Bay contains vast areas of active shellfish beds. Further, many additional areas, although not currently exhibiting active shellfish beds, contain viable habitat which can support them in the future.

Figures 4 and 5 show designated Buzzards Bay Shellfish Growing Areas and their current management classification, as compiled by the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement’s (DFWELE), Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). Designated growing areas are water quality management areas. They are managed by DMF Shellfish Project. These areas have five water quality classifications: approved, conditionally approved, restricted, conditionally restricted and prohibited. In addition, an area may receive an administrative designation called a Management Closure.

As shown in Figures 4 and 5, many acres of Buzzards Bay shellfish beds are not classified as permanently open. Shellfish beds that are closed temporarily or seasonally could benefit from a prohibition on all boat waste discharge. While as a percentage of the entire Buzzards Bay surface area they appear small, because they are clustered within the many poorly flushed embayments to which the public has access, they have a very significant impact to local residents and shellfishermen since most shellfish activity and access occurs very close to shore.

Waters of Significant Recreational Value

Recreational waters and beaches have, historically, contributed to the quality of life in Buzzards Bay. In more recent times, the quality of the Commonwealth’s waters and beaches has contributed to making tourism one of the leading industries in the state. The state’s Watershed Initiative, the 1995 revisions to The State Environmental Code, Title 5 (310 CMR 15.00), and the statewide Stormwater Management Policy have contributed to the efforts to protect and enhance the quality of its inland and coastal waters of Buzzards Bay. Figure 6 depicts state and municipal coastal parks and beaches that are recreationally significant in Buzzards Bay, in which improved water quality through a NDA designation could contribute a positive effect on the recreational experience.
Nursery Areas for Aquatic Life

Estuaries (including shellfish beds, areas of submerged vegetation, salt marshes, and tidal flats) and near-coastal sectors (i.e., the protected waters of bays, sounds, tidal rivers, and territorial seas) are the richest of the coastal zone. Most estuarine areas of Buzzards Bay serve as spawning and nursery habitat for many recreational- and commercially-harvested finfish and shellfish species. These critical areas may become more productive with the prohibition of all boat waste discharges.
Waters That Do Not Meet State-Designated Usage

State-designated classifications for coastal and marine waters are based on potential habitat value and the level of use that the waters can safely support. Class SA waters provide excellent habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife; are suitable for primary and secondary contact recreation; and, in approved areas, are suitable for shellfish harvesting without depuration (Open Shellfish Areas). Class SB waters provide habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife; are suitable for primary and secondary contact recreation; and, in approved areas, are suitable for shellfish harvesting with depuration (Restricted Shellfish Areas). Class SC waters provide habitat for fish, other aquatic life, and wildlife; are suitable for secondary contact recreation; and are suitable for certain industrial cooling and process uses. Figure 7 depicts coastal and marine waters that did not meet state-designated uses in 1997. The elimination of boat waste discharges should augment ongoing efforts in areas such as stormwater and combined sewer overflow remediation, and contribute positively to the goal of attaining state-designated uses for coastal waters.
Waters of National Significance

Buzzards Bay received federal designation in 1985 as a bay of national significance and in 1987 the bay and its watershed was designated as a National Estuary Program (NEP) in accordance with Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. In 1991, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the US EPA approved a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Buzzards Bay which included recommendations that the discharge of all sewage from all boats using Buzzards Bay embayments be eliminated and that all Buzzard Bay embayments be designated as NDAs. The CCMP also recommends that to better protect and enhance shellfish resources, pathogen inputs from boat sewage need to be reduced.
Geographic Areas in Buzzards Bay of Local and Regional Significance

Within the context of its state environmental policy, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has also designated areas, which because of unique natural characteristics, are subject to elevated standards of resource conservation, preservation and protection. In this regard, pursuant to the State Ocean Sanctuaries Act, the Massachusetts Legislature designated Buzzards Bay as one of five “Ocean Sanctuaries” in Massachusetts. The purpose of the Ocean Sanctuaries Program is to protect the designated areas, extending from mean low water to the seaward extent of the territorial sea, from any exploitation, development, or activity that would seriously endanger its ecology or appearance. The program either prohibits absolutely all municipal wastewater treatment discharges or, if allowed, raises the standard of approval to a higher level. Further, the Ocean Sanctuaries Program takes an ecosystem approach to the management of coastal areas, seeking to preserve the coastal resources (marine life, water quality, and beaches) that are critical to the Commonwealth’s major industries of fishing, shellfishing, recreation, and tourism. Clearly, the goals of a NDA designation for Buzzards Bay compliments the state’s Ocean Sanctuary designation for the Bay.
Similarly, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs) are areas containing concentrations of highly significant environmental resources, unique not only for their natural values, but also for their human resource values. The primary purpose of the ACEC is the long-term preservation and stewardship of these environmentally critical resource areas. Once an area is formally designated by the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, all EOEA agencies must take action, administer programs, and revise regulations: to preserve, restore, or enhance the resources of ACECs; and to ensure that activities in or impacting on the area are carried out so as to, among other things, minimize adverse effects on marine productivity, habitat value, scenic and recreational resources, and other natural resource values of the area. As a result, projects that occur within or that significantly impact ACECs are subject to higher standards of review and protection. Buzzards Bay has only two ACECs, the Back River and the Pocasset River. Neither of these two estuaries are currently meeting state surface water quality goals, and a boat No Discharge Area designation may contribute to needed water quality improvements in these ACECs to meet water quality goals.
Outstanding Resource Waters

Pursuant to the Commonwealth’s Surface Water Quality Standards (314 CMR 4.00) certain waters in Massachusetts have been designated as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs). ORWs are subject to increased protection based on the identification of specific socioeconomic, ecological, recreational, and aesthetic values. Figure 8 depicts the marine ORW designations in Buzzards Bay. Only the Elizabeth Islands and Pocasset River have been designated as ORWs. The Buzzards Bay NDA designation will compliment these ORW designations.
Waters Currently Designated as No Discharge Areas in the Commonwealth

Buzzards Bay currently has two NDA designations: the waters of Wareham River and Onset Bay (designated in the spring of 1992, the first designation on the East Coast); and the Westport/East & West Branches of the Westport River (designated in 1994, see Fig. 9). All Buzzards Bay municipalities have expressed support for the expansion of this designation bay wide (see attached letters of support.).
The designation of all Buzzards Bay as a NDA will streamline the regional enforcement and education initiatives, and help bring additional state and local resources to bear on the important components of an effective NDA implementation.
Summary of Need

Estuarine and coastal ecosystems are dependent on the presence of complex and integrated biological and physical processes. While the integrity of these processes is rarely threatened as a result of occasional and isolated actions, the cumulative impact of treated and untreated boat wastes has the potential to impact negatively and persistently the health of sensitive coastal ecosystems, a health which must not only be maintained, but enhanced, if future generations are to enjoy the opportunities so-long provided by our coastal waters. While boat wastes are certainly not the only threat to the health of coastal ecosystems, the prohibition of all boat waste discharges is clearly an action that can contribute to an overall integrated strategy, by all levels of government, to protect our coastal resources.
As discussed above, a boat sewage No Discharge Area designation for the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay will provide enhanced protection to the diverse coastal resources of the bay. This designation will strengthen and broaden existing special designations, and reduce jurisdictional confusion for boaters. It will also provide more comprehensive and uniform enforcement of no discharge prohibitions, and will result in the wider education of, not only boaters, but the general public concerning responsible stewardship of coastal waters and resources. Indeed, a No Discharge Area designation underscores the value of these waters and the desire of Buzzards Bay municipalities to maintain a consistent level of protection for all their residents.
Finally, with any treated or untreated discharge of sewage near shellfish beds or swimming beaches, there is a finite risk to human health that exists. A NDA designation will reduce that threat.

NDA Designation criteria

As discussed in the previous section, the discharge of sewage by vessels is primarily regulated by Section 312 of the CWA. By establishing requirements for MSDs on boats and enabling states to apply to EPA for the authority to prohibit all discharges, Section 312 seeks to eliminate the discharge of untreated sewage into waters of the United States.
Section 312(f)(3) of the CWA allows states to apply to EPA to designate certain water bodies as NDAs. Once designated by EPA, the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited within the NDA. Approval of a NDA application by EPA Region I is largely contingent upon documentation that there is a need for NDA designation and that ” ‘adequate and reasonably available’ pumpout facilities exist for boaters to use.” EPA Region I has determined that, in general, a range ratio of one pumpout facility per 450 boats with marine sanitation devices should be sufficient to meet the demand for pumpout services in most harbor areas. Specifically, as stated in its Guidelines, EPA Region I’s suggested range ratio of pumpout facilities to boats is based on the estimated number of boats with holding tanks. We believe that the number of boat pumpouts in each Buzzards Bay community more than meets these criteria.

There is no one single definitive information source as to the number of boats, or boats with MSDs that can be found in Buzzards Bay. Moreover, the number of boats can vary depending upon the day of the week, weather conditions, holidays, and special events. To develop a reasonable estimate as to the maximum number of boats with MSD that need to be planned for, we have considered information from several different sources and reports including:

  • The 1990 Buzzards Bay Coalition Inventory report of boats, MSDs and pumpouts
  • Current estimates from harbor masters and direct calls to selected marinas
  • DMF Shellfish Sanitary Survey reports and other statistics
  • MCZM’s draft application for a statewide NDA application in 1998
  • 1999 Registry of Motor vehicle Boat registration data

These information sources do not all agree, and for the final numbers we employ for our analysis we have used the most conservative (highest) numbers of boats under maximum boat presence conditions with a margin of safety included in our estimates.
In developing our estimates of the numbers of MSDs we have focused on estimating the maximum number of boats that may be found in Buzzards Bay, and estimating the number of MSDs present based on boat length data and generally adopted planning assumptions as to the percentage of boats that have MSDs. We then compare these estimates of the maximum number of MSDs that may be found in Buzzards Bay to the number of existing and planned pumpout facilities to determine the adequacy of these facilities in meeting the needs of the boating public. These calculations were made at bay wide, municipal, and embayment scales to determine the adequacy of boat pumpouts.
The Buzzards Bay NEP has also maintained a list of Buzzards Bay pumpout facilities for many years. For this application, the Project called each harbor master and major marina operators, and all pumpout facility operators to confirm the list of pumpout facilities and boat data from the above sources, and compiled additional information such as pump type, hours of operation, and fees. Below is a synopsis of the various estimates.
Coalition Report

In 1990, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, with a grant from the Buzzards Bay NEP conducted a survey of boat moorings, slips, and pumpout facilities in Buzzards Bay. While somewhat dated, much of the summary information contained in that report remains an accurate picture of the Buzzards Bay boat population.
DMF Shellfish Sanitary Surveys

As part of its ongoing Shellfish Project, DMF compiles data on moorings and slips in Massachusetts. Under the auspices of this project, DMF has divided the Massachusetts territorial sea (from the tidal zone out to the seaward extent of the territorial sea) into 378 Designated Shellfish Growing Areas (DSGAs.) A DSGA is an area of water quality management that may have the potential for shellfish harvest and is classified according to the sanitary appropriateness of harvesting shellfish from the area.
A component of any Sanitary Survey is the data on slips and moorings in the Commonwealth. These slip and mooring data are collected and updated every three years by DMF shellfish biologists. The marina and mooring information is always incorporated into the Sanitary Surveys and is based on site visits, questionnaires, and conversations with local harbor masters, shellfish wardens and marina owners and operators. While there are limitations with these data, it was useful for comparing to other sources.
MCZM 1998 application for a statewide NDA

In the fall of 1998, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management submitted to the US EPA an application for a statewide NDA application. Although the application has not advanced, much detailed summary information contained in that application are contained here.
Information Requests to Harbor Masters

The Buzzards Bay NEP called each harbor master and major marine operators to get the most recent number of boat moorings, boat use, and pumpout facilities for each harbor. Summary of town specific information was submitted for confirmation.
Registry of Motor Vehicle data

All boats with engines are registered. Most boat owners in Massachusetts have their boats registered in Massachusetts, with the exception of some very large vessels which may be registered in other states (e.g., Delaware) for tax purposes.

Vessel Population in Buzzards Bay

The DMF Sanitary Survey as reported by MCZM, the Coalition report, and the Project’s current assumptions of boats on mooring and slips are summarized in Table 2. The three estimates are fairly consistent, and for our current assessment we have assumed the total number of moorings and slips found in Buzzards Bay is estimated to be 12,257. This estimate is based on the detailed information in Appendix A. This total was based on the town by town summaries shown in Table 3, which in turn was based on the detailed harbor by harbor and marina information shown in Appendix A. Figure 10 shows the geographic boundaries of each town with the data from Table 3. Fig. 11 depicts the distribution of these moorings and slips by major embayment areas based on Appendix A.
Table 2. Summary of mooring and slip information for Buzzards Bay.

Information Source Moorings Slips Total
Coalition 90 Report 7,009 3,273 10,282
DMF Reports (MCZM 98 summary) 7,741 3,033 10,774
Current BBP estimates (1999) 8,043 4,214 12,257


For comparative purposes, town by town Registry of Motor vehicle statistics are shown in Table 4.

As shown, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor vehicles has recorded 13,163 boats registered in Buzzards Bay municipalities. This estimate was based on the assumption that 25% of Falmouth-registered boats are on Buzzards Bay, with the remainder on the densely developed southern coastal bays on Vineyard Sound. This total number of boats is somewhat higher than bay wide estimates in Tables 2 and 3 based on slips and moorings because a many registered boats under 16 foot are not kept on docks or moorings but rather represent small boats on trailers that are primarily used for occasional recreational day trips. Some of these under 16 feet registered boats are also used exclusively on freshwater ponds. The uncertainties of the number of boats under 16 feet are not important for the purposes of a No-Discharge Area designation because it is generally presumed that boats less than 16 feet in length do not have MSDs on board.
Table 3. 1999 estimates of boats by municipality, based on public and private slips and moorings.

Town Slips Moorings Total
Westport 600 630 1,230
Dartmouth 300 880 1,180
New Bedford 1,035 285 1,320
Fairhaven 494 318 812
Mattapoisett 84 851 935
Marion 156 1,417 1,573
Wareham 640 916 1,556
Bourne2 739 1,678 2,417
Falmouth1 120 850 970
Gosnold3 46 218 264
TOTALS 4,214 8,043 12,257

1 Buzzards Bay waters only.

2 Does not include dingy (small boats less than 16 feet) “outhauls.”

3 Does not include Tarpaulin Cove (Vineyard Sound side) or transients offshore
Table 4. Estimate of boats by municipality, based on 1999 Registry of Motor Vehicle data. Note that many registered vessels under 16′ are trailered and do not have permanent moorings or slips. Others may be in freshwater.

Boat Size (ft):


<16 16-25 26-39 40-65 > 65 all Boats sum >16′
Westport 659 789 109 6 0 1,563 904
Dartmouth 496 603 116 3 0 1,218 722
New Bedford 726 571 66 10 0 1,373 647
Acushnet 196 106 9 0 0 311 115
Fairhaven 409 511 184 11 0 1,115 706
Mattapoisett 371 341 127 0 839 468
Marion 479 353 119 12 1 964 485
Wareham 809 1112 194 6 0 2,121 1312
Bourne 922 1290 307 12 1 2,532 1610
Falmouth* (BB only) 369 533 119 5 0 1,026 656
Gosnold 30 61 10 0 0 101 71
Totals 5,466 6,270 1,360 65 2 13,163 7696
* only 25% of Falmouth boats assumed in Buzzards Bay, actual registry numbers are 4x higher, values rounded.


Estimates of MSDs within the Buzzards Bay boating population

While Buzzards Bay regular mooring fields, slips, and docks can accommodate somewhat more than 12,000 boats, only a small portion of these boats have a toilet (head) installed on board. Actual MSD statistics do not exist for Buzzards Bay municipalities, but they can be conservatively estimated for the planning purposes to determine the adequacy of existing pumpout facilities for meeting the need of the boating public.
The US EPA adopted guidelines for estimating the number of MSDs, which are based on boat size, and were used by the State of Rhode Island in the preparation of their application for the designation of its coastal waters as a boat sewage NDA in 1998. These assumptions, summarized in Table 5, were that boats less than 16 feet do not have MSDs, 20 percent of boats between 16 and 26 feet have MSDs; 50 percent of boats between 26 and 40 feet, and 100 percent of boats greater than 40 feet have MSDs. We assumed that all “documented” Massachusetts vessels and all registered commercial passenger and fishing vessels were equipped with some type of MSD and located in coastal waters.

Table 5. Summary of US EPA and MCZM assumed MSD presence based on boat size adopted for planning purposes.

Est.# of Boats
Length with MSD
< 16 feet 0%
16 feet to < 26 feet 20%
26 feet to < 40 feet 50%
40 feet and greater 100%
Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (type III MSD) 100%


Buzzards Bay municipalities do not keep length records of boats associated with all moorings and slips. The only detailed data source that identifies boat length in each town is the Registry of Motor Vehicles boat registration database summarized in Table 4 above. Using EPA ratios identified in Table 5, and multiplying those ratios by the boat totals in Table 4, the number of MSDs in the bay can be calculated as shown in Table 6.
Table 6. Estimates of MSD by town based on vessels registered with Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (see Table 4), and estimated MSD based on boat size (Table 5).

Municipality: est MSDs vessels>16′ % MSD vessels>16′
Westport 218 904 24%
Dartmouth 182 722 25%
New Bedford 157 647 24%
Acushnet 26 115 22%
Fairhaven 205 706 29%
Mattapoisett 132 468 28%
Marion 143 485 30%
Wareham 325 1312 25%
Bourne 425 1610 26%
Falmouth* (BB only) 171 656 26%
Gosnold 17 71 24%
Totals 2,001 7696 26%


Table 6 suggests that 2000 boats, or only 26% of registered Buzzards Bay area boats that are greater than 16 feet have MSDs. This is probably a realistic proportion of Massachusetts Registered boats, however, the actual percentage of boats with MSDs may be somewhat higher because some of the largest vessels moored in Buzzards Bay are registered in other states for tax purposes, and other large transient large boats may visit Buzzards Bay.
The estimate of 26% of boats larger than 16 feet having MSD cannot be directly applied to the 12,000 boats that are moored or docked in Buzzards Bay, since many moored and docked boats are under 16 feet and do not have toilets aboard. However, as a worse-case scenario with margin of safety, we have assumed that 25% of all moored or slipped boats do have MSDs. Using this 25% MSD occurrence assumption from the Registry of Motor Vehicle data, and applying that to the actual 12,257 boats in Buzzards Bay on moorings and slips (Table 3), it is likely that only 3,064 boats in Buzzards Bay may have an MSD. As a further margin of safety, we assume that 1400 additional boats may appear in temporary mooring fields during the July 4th weekend or special boat regatta events. As a worse case scenario, we can assume that one half of these boats, or 700 have MSDs. In addition, we estimate that 900 private docks in Buzzards Bay have boats larger than 16 feet, and 300 of these boats have MSDs. Thus, for the purpose of this application, we assume that under extreme conditions, and with a margin of safety in our calculations, roughly 4000 boats having MSDs may be found in Buzzards Bay at peak boat population conditions.
This estimate of 4000 boats with MSD of the 12,000 existing and moorings and slips in Buzzards Bay is equivalent to the 33% MSD occurrence rate adopted by the State of Rhode Island in its approved boat sewage No Discharge Area application. All subsequent tables and maps in this report employ this 33% MSD occurrence rate in ascertaining the adequacy of pumpout facilities in Buzzards Bay.
Of this estimated maximum population of 4000 boats with MSD population, as noted previously, 85% of these boats probably have Type III MSDs (holding tanks). It is already illegal to discharge these holding tanks into Buzzards Bay which is a territorial sea. Rather, the NDA designation will directly affect only the remaining 15% or roughly 600 boats maximum that have a Type I or Type II MSD. The use of these boat toilets (heads) would be prohibited in Buzzards Bay. The owners of these boats may wish to retrofit their vessels with holding tanks if they primarily use their vessel in Buzzards Bay.
Pumpout Facilities in Buzzards Bay

Pumpout facilities verified through this process included fixed dockside facilities, mobile shore side pumpout carts, and mobile, on-the-water pumpout boats (see Figs. 12 and 13). It was found that pumpout services are being performed increasingly by pumpout boats. This approach has proven popular with boaters since they do not have to be concerned with approaching and tying to docks or considering availability of dock space or depth of docks at different tides, or even have to be present on their boat in some instances.
As described in greater detail in the next section, based on the Buzzards Bay NEP’s survey, there are currently 30 pumpout facilities located in Buzzards Bay, and 37 will be operational in the summer of 2000. This total is a considerable increase from 1990, when only 13 pumpouts existed bay-wide, and when Buzzards Bay municipalities began their commitment to increasing their numbers as recommended in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
Appendix B provides extensive information on operational characteristics of these pumpout facilities. This information consists of a number corresponding to the location of the pumpout facility on Figure 13; the city or town in which the facility is located; the marina, dock, or boat yard at which the facility is located; the VHF marine radio channel and/or telephone number to be used to obtain additional pumpout information; the type(s) of pumpout facility(s) present (fixed dockside facility, mobile shore side pumpout cart, pumpout boat, and/or waste dump facilities); estimated mean low water depth at the facility, if it is a shore side facility; if fees are required; hours and seasons of operation; whether the facility(s) discharges to a municipal sewer or holding tank; the capacity of the holding tank, whether it is serviced by a licensed septage hauler, and the hauling schedule, if appropriate; and pertinent or interesting remarks noted during the verification process. Estimates of the volume of sewage pumped in 1998 are based on a preliminary compilation of estimated and reported figures as supplied by the CVA Program Administrator and conversations with facility operators, where possible.
Operational Characteristics of Pumpout Facilities Serving Buzzards Bay

Buzzards Bay is about 30 miles long and averages about 7 miles wide. The Buzzards Bay coastline consists of about 28 embayments, and these areas are where boat sewage problems are usually concentrated. A number of these embayments are shared by two towns. Marina pumpout facilities, however, are open to residents of all communities, giving the boating public the option of choosing where, when, and how to dispose of their waste. Communities and marina owners and operators have several alternatives from which to choose for removing sewage from boats. The types of pumpout facilities available are pumpout boats, stationary pumping facilities, portable or mobile pumping facilities, and portable toilet dump stations. Additional detailed information can be found in Appendix C.
Because of the extensive array of embayments along the Buzzards Bay and Massachusetts coastlines, the state CVA Program concentrated its efforts on the concept of the pumpout boat. A pumpout boat is essentially a mobile pump facility, or waterborne “honey wagon,” which provides increased boater accessibility to pumpouts and an increased potential for use over shore side pumpout facilities. The pumpout boat allows the pumpout station to go to the boat rather than the boat cuing up at the pumpout station.
Table 7. Summary of the availability of pumpout facilities in Buzzards Bay for recreational boats projected for Summer 2000a

Fixed Pumpout Pumpout Total Waste
Municipality Dockside Carts Boats Pumpouts Dump
Westport 1 0 2 3 0
Dartmouth 0 0 2 2 0
New Bedford d2 0 b0,1 b2,3 1
Fairhaven 1 0 b1,2 b2,3 b0,1
Mattapoisett 1 0 b1,2 b2,3 0
Marion 1 0 1 2 b1,2
Wareham 6 0 2 8 4
Bourne b3,5 0 e2 b5,7 1
Falmouth (Buzzards Bay) 1 1 b2,3 b4,5 0
Gosnold 0 0 b,c0,1 b0,1 0
TOTAL EXISTING 16 1 13 30 7
TOTAL SUMMER 2000 18 1 18 37 9


(a Fixed shore side facilities, pumpout carts, and pumpout boats only. In summer 2000, Bourne will have 2 additional fixed pumpouts, New Bedford will gain 1 mobile, Falmouth 1 mobile, Mattapoisett 1 mobile, Gosnold 1 mobile, and Fairhaven 1 mobile to increase baywide total pumpouts from 30 to 37).

b First number existing, second number scheduled for summer 2000.

c Proposed CBB Baykeeper pumpout boat is scheduled for weekend visits to Cuttyhunk Harbor.

d One of these shoreside pumpout stations ( at the State Pier) is primarily accessible to very large commercial vessels only because of it elevation above water levels.

e One of these vessels, stationed at Monument Beach but serving the Bourne south coast, was inoperable in Buzzards Bay for one seasons because of a blown engine. The following year the other boat was out of operation because of a failed pump. The town is expected to have all repairs complete for summer of 2000. Two new shoreside facilities in Bourne are also meant to meet boater needs for this area.
There are several manufacturers of pumpout boats (e.g., CB Environmental, Tripp Angler, and Privateer) that are used in Buzzards Bay. The “CB Environmental,” which is manufactured by C.B. Boatworks Inc. of Wellfleet, MA., is the principal type of pumpout boat found in Buzzards Bay. The “CB Environmental” is a 21-foot, 115 horsepower outboard boat with a molded fiberglass hull and deck. The pumpout boat is, typically, fitted with a below deck 300-gallon molded fiberglass tank and a gas-driven Edson bronze diaphragm transfer pump. The 300-gallon tank can be discharged easily into a shoreside pumpout station or pumped directly at the dock by a licensed septage hauler.
Shoreside pumpout facilities can be either a stationary or portable pumpout station. Stationary pumpout systems are fixed facilities usually located near a fuel dock and often located as close to boat off-loading points as possible. A portable shoreside pumpout facility offers the advantage of mobility. This facility is similar to the pumpout boat in that it allows the operator to bring the pumpout station to the boat rather than the boat to the pumpout station, albeit at a dock or marina. The manufacturers of the pumpout facilities commonly found along the Massachusetts coastline are Edson, Waubaushene, KECO Pump-A-Head, and Johnny Trap.
Pump types that are commonly found in boat and shoreside pumpout facilities are reciprocating (i.e., diaphragm and piston), centrifugal (i.e., rotary or impeller), or vacuum pumps. Reciprocating pump systems consist generally of a diaphragm pump and a series of valves (i.e., inlet and outlet) that work in combination to force sewage out through the pump into a collection and disposal system. The Edson and the KECO Pump-A-Head pumpout systems are primarily this type of system, however both manufacture vacuum pump systems as well.
The other pump systems that are familiar to Massachusetts boaters are vacuum pump systems. Vacuum pumps do not directly handle sewage, rather, they use air pressure to push sewage out of a holding tank into a sewer or holding tank. Waubaushene and Johnny Trap pumpout facilities are strictly vacuum pump systems.
Dump stations are facilities that are used for the disposal of waste from porta-potties. Dump stations are convenient facilities for boaters to empty and wash their portable toilets into a wastewater collection system or a holding tank. Although there are several manufacturers of dump stations, the Edson Washdown Station is the only type found in Buzzards Bay.
All Buzzards Bay pumpouts are operated by marina or town personnel, not the boater. Nearly all have had an excellent operational and performance record, with failures being infrequent. One exception has been the two pumpout boats in the Town of Bourne. In one boating season, a pumpout engine failed and the boat was disabled for much of the boating season. In the following season, the boat engine failed on the second boat. Thus, for two seasons in a row the town had only one boat operation. However, for the boating 2000 season, the Town of Bourne is committed to having both boats fully operational.
Approved Disposal Methods for Sewage Pumped from Massachusetts Boats

An important factor for the success of any NDA is the method of disposal of the collected boat sewage, which may vary at any given location. The concentration of chemicals (e.g., chlorine and deodorants, formaldehyde has been banned), which are added to boat holding tanks for disinfecting the waste and to mask odors, requires that marine sewage be disposed of differently than normal, domestic human sanitary wastes.
In Massachusetts, municipalities and marina operators who pump out boat sewage must comply with a variety of existing rules and regulations, promulgated by DEP for the safe and efficient treatment and disposal of boat sewage. Specifically, boat sewage may not be discharged to subsurface sewage disposal systems (i.e., onsite septic systems) or any type of dry well, leaching field or pit. Instead, boat sewage is typically discharged directly to a municipal sewer system or to a holding tank. In Massachusetts, once pumped from a vessel, the final treatment of boat sewage is accomplished when it is conveyed to:

a publicly-owned treatment works (POTW), provided they have adequate receiving and/or collection facilities and are in compliance with their existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)- or groundwater-permitted discharge volumes and quantities; or

a privately-owned treatment works provided they have adequate capacity and are designed to receive and treat boat sewage, and are in compliance with permit limits.

Boat sewage can be conveyed to publicly- or privately-owned treatment facilities in two ways:

1.) through a direct connection to a sewer line. Pursuant to 314 CMR 7.00, a DEP sewer connection/extension permit is required for estimated flows in excess of 15,000 gallons per day. Municipal connection permits are also required for smaller volumes with any extension of a municipal sewer line; or

2.) pursuant to 310 CMR 15.00, transportation from a DEP-approved tight tank or other temporary holding tank approved by the local Board of Health by a Licensed Septage Hauler also approved by the local Board of Health. Holding tanks cannot be located in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-mapped velocity zones.
The most effective way of treating boat sewage in Massachusetts is to pump the sewage from the boats or pumpout boat directly into a municipal sewer collection system, thereby diluting potentially harmful chemical additives. Of the 30 existing pumpout facilities in Buzzards Bay, 22 dispose of boat sewage by discharging directly to connections to municipal sewer systems. Of the new facilities, 5 out of 7 will be served by sewer systems. In communities where marine pumpout facilities are not sewered, a state DEP-approved tight tank or holding tank can be used to temporarily hold boat waste until a Licensed Septage Hauler moves the waste to a treatment facility. Most facilities utilizing holding tanks have established contracts with Licensed Septage Haulers with pumping occurring on an as-needed basis. Currently, because not all communities are served by municipal sewer systems, this disposal method is used to treat boat waste at 8 pumpout facility locations in Buzzards Bay.
Some states permit boat sewage to be disposed into on-site sewage disposal systems. In Massachusetts, however, 310 CMR 15.00, Title 5 of the State Environmental Code, prohibits the disposal of boat sewage in this manner. Chemical additives can inhibit bacterial action needed for decomposition of solids, leading to a buildup of sludge in the on-site system, a clogging of the leaching interface, a reduction in the waste treatment capabilities of the system, and the potential for an accelerated rate of system failure. Through the interruption of biological treatment processes, the introduction of boat wastes and disinfectants to an on-site, subsurface sewage disposal system can also increase the potential for surface and ground water contamination.
Chemical additives were once thought to be a concern to the operation of sewage treatment plants. However, boat sewage is considered a small input into most treatment systems which handle often hundreds of thousands of gallons per day. Moreover, all facilities now have “bleeder tanks” to allow the slow introduction of septage from honey wagons, including inputs from boat sewage collection facilities. Thus municipal and private pumpout facilities have no trouble in obtaining the services of any licensed hauler in their municipality to remove boat sewage from pumpout facilities.
Assessing the “Adequacy and Reasonable Availability of Pumpout Facilities” Serving the Boating Population of Buzzards Bay

While there is no set ratio or formula to determine the exact number of pumpout facilities necessary to serve a given population of boats, EPA Region I has determined that, in general, a range ratio of one pumpout facility per 450 boats with MSDs should be sufficient to meet the demand for pumpout services. Based on the experiences of regulators in other parts of the country where NDA standards are in effect, EPA Region I further recommends that a minimum of one pumpout station per 300 boats with MSDs be provided in “transient harbors” and a minimum of one pumpout station per 600 boats with MSDs be provided in “parking lot harbors.” EPA describes transient harbors as those harbors where a larger percentage of boats are greater than 25 feet in length and more likely to have holding tanks. Correspondingly, parking lot harbors are defined as those harbors where a larger percentage of boats are less than 25 feet in length and less likely to have holding tanks. Although statistics are not available for Buzzards Bay embayments on average boat length, these criteria are questionable since many quintessential “parking lot harbors” have mooring fields dominated by sailboats greater than 25 feet.
We believe that Buzzards Bay has only a few truly transient harbors. Among the harbors that could be considered transient by some include Cuttyhunk Pond, Sippican Harbor, Hadleys Harbor, and possibly Apponagansett Bay. The majority of boats found in these harbors are present throughout the season however.
Irrespective of these definitions, in any way the MSD and pumpout data are interpreted (Table 8), it can be concluded that there are adequate and reasonably available pumpout facilities for the boating population of Buzzards Bay. Bay-wide, the approximate 4000 potential maximum population of recreational boats with MSDs and existing 30 pumpouts suggest a 133:1 MSD to pumpout ratio under worse case boating population conditions. When 7 new planned and funded pumpouts are operational in the summer of 2000, the ratio will drop to 108:1. As shown in Table 8 and Fig. 10, by the summer of 2000, MSD to pumpout ratios will be often well below 200:1 except for New Bedford (218:1) and Marion (260:1). Thus, all harbors in Buzzards Bay meet the tougher criteria of 300 MSDs per pumpout that would apply to transient harbors.
In Figure 11, the same statistics on boats, estimated MSDs, and MSD to pumpout ratios are shown based on embayment groupings. Although there is considerable variability in MSD to pumpout ratios, there is generally excellent coverage of pumpouts geographically in the bay. It is worth noting that Slocums River/ Little Bay area of Dartmouth has no pumpout facilities because that section of coast has no marinas and little development, and few boats with MSDs. In some areas, new pumpouts that will be established in the summer of 2000 will eliminate gaps in coverage. By the summer of 2000 boaters will not have to travel much more than a mile for a pumpout, or not at all given the increasing abundance of mobile pumpouts.
Table 8. Recreational Boat total pumpout facilities and estimated boats with MSDs (worse case conditions), listed by municipality, with MSD to boat pumpout facility (pof) ratios both for existing conditions and projected summer 2000. One dockside pumpout facility in New Bedford was not included in the calculations of MSD:pumpout ratios because it serves primarily large commercial vessels. Thus one less pumpout is shown for existing and future conditions as compared to Table 7.

existing existing 2000 season 2000 season
est MSDs pumpouts MSD:pof pumpouts MSD:pof
Bourne 798 5 160 7 114
Dartmouth 389 2 195 2 195
Fairhaven 268 2 134 3 89
Falmouth 320 4 80 5 64
Gosnold 87 0 NA 1 87
Marion 519 2 260 2 260
Mattapoisett 309 2 154 3 103
New Bedford 436 1 436 2 218
Wareham 513 8 64 8 64
Westport 406 3 135 3 135
Bay-wide 4045 29 139 36 112


There are currently 30 boat pumpouts in Buzzards Bay, including 13 mobile facilities. By the summer of 2000, seven new facilities will become available including the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s “Baykeeper” vessel (see attached letter for more information about the Baykeeper). The mobile pumpout facilities in particular have proven to be effective and popular since boaters do not have to wait in line to utilize shoreside facilities nor must they be concerned about water depths alongside shoreside facilities since the pumpout facility is brought to the boat. The abundance of mobile and stationary boat pumpout facilities available to the boating population of Buzzards Bay suggest that all criteria for a NDA designation can be met.

Buzzards Bay municipalities and the BBAC recognize that enforcement is an important ingredient in the successful implementation of boat sewage No Discharge Area designation. A NDA designation applies to all boats, recreational and commercial, regardless of the type of MSD installed. Currently, enforcement of federal laws related to MSDs (Section 312 of the CWA) is the responsibility of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Largely because of limited resources, however, the USCG has had difficulty effectively enforcing the MSD standards for recreational and small commercial boats throughout the coastal waters of Massachusetts. Section 312 of the CWA provides an enforcement alternative, presenting states with the option to share in the CWA enforcement responsibilities as they relate to MSDs.
In Massachusetts, as well as in the other New England coastal states (Rhode Island being the only one whose coastal waters have received approval of a NDA designation), the USCG has a “statement of understanding,” which allows these states to enforce MSD and boat sewage discharge regulations. In addition to the enforcement of boating safety standards and regulations, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, a Division of DFWELE, is the state agency responsible for the enforcement of MSD and vessel discharge regulations in all coastal waters of the Commonwealth.
For those waters that have received local designations, the Commonwealth, and its agencies, are solely responsible for NDA enforcement. Pursuant to the CWA, in accepting this responsibility, a state can delegate enforcement authority to local officials such as harbormasters, police, and public health officers. At this time, however, there is no formal mechanism in Massachusetts that allows the Commonwealth to delegate this state authority to local municipalities. The BBAC encourages the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to adopt the necessary legislation that will ensure the success of a no discharge designation.
Education and Outreach

Ultimately, the success of a boat sewage No Discharge Area designation is less the result of enforcement than of education and outreach. The municipalities of Buzzards Bay will focus on implementing a strong public and boater education/outreach program. It is believed that the majority of boaters want to do the right thing, particularly after being made aware of the environmental problems associated with the discharge of treated and untreated boat wastes in coastal waters. The Buzzards Bay NDA outreach strategy will capitalize on this stewardship attitude inherent with Buzzards Bay boaters, making education and outreach the cornerstone of the designations success.
Already residents of Buzzards Bay are aware of this effort (see attached press clippings). The Buzzards Bay Action Committee Executive Director visited each municipal Board of Selectmen requesting support for such a bay wide designation. Each Board approved and endorsed the NDA application at public Selectmen meetings, which in most towns is broadcast also on cable access channels, as well as reported in local bi-weekly newspapers, regional daily papers. The states’ public announcement in 1998 of a state-wide boat no discharge application was also well received and has prepared the ground for this application. The Buzzards Bay NEP and the Buzzards Bay Coalition will also place information about the NDA application on their respective web sites.
To ensure the NDA’s success however, Buzzards Bay municipalities will actively educate and reach out to the public through flyer inserts in mooring and shellfishing licenses and distribution of posters and signs at harbor master offices and selected boat ramps promoting the use of pumpouts. MCZM has committed to paying for some of this signage. Additionally, maps identifying where local pumpout facilities are located will be distributed to harbor masters and marinas throughout the coast. Harbor masters will distribute the flyer, along with information on their hours of operation, fees, phone numbers, and VHF radio channels. These flyers will also be mailed with mooring permits and given out with shellfish licenses. MCZM will assist Buzzards Bay municipalities through a press campaign and will also pursue numerous articles in local newspapers. The Buzzards Bay Coalition will also promote the NDA designation in their publications and hand out flyers. The Buzzards Bay NEP, on behalf of the Buzzards Bay Action Committee and Buzzards Bay municipalities will also target press releases and informational meetings to local newspapers, radio stations, and cable television stations in coastal communities. This concerted educational effort will be integrated with other BBAC initiatives on waste oil collection and reduction of bilge oil discharges as part of an integrated effort to address and reduce pollution to Buzzards Bay.
References Cited

Buzzards Bay NEP (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs). 1991. Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, 8/91 Final. 246p.
EPA. 1991. Guidance for States and Municipalities Seeking No Discharge Area Designation for New England Coastal Waters. U.S. EPA, Region I, Boston, Massachusetts. June 24, 1991 (Revised April 14, 1992.) citing from: Milliken, A.S. and V. Lee. Pollution Impacts from Recreational Boating. Rhode Island Sea Grant, University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Narragansett, Rhode Island. 1990 and JRB Associates, Inc. Analysis of Wastewater Discharge from Marine Sanitation Devices. Final Report prepared for the Environmental Protection Agency by JRB Associates, Inc. MacLean, VA. 1981.

Text by Joe Costa, maps by Sarah Williams, tables and data collection by Tracy Warncke.
Appendix A. All mooring and slip data summarized by town and cove.

BAY NAME- Managed by TOWN SLIPS Moorings
Buttermilk Bay Bourne Town Marina (public) Bourne 150 0
Buttermilk Bay Budd’s Bait & Tackle Bourne 33
Buttermilk Bay Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 116 162
Canal: Gray Gables Gray Gables Marina Bourne 3 29
Hen Cove Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 6 232
Phinneys Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 13 309
Phinneys Harbor Town Marina Bourne 57 18
Pocasset Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 8 201
Pocasset River Barlow’s Boat Yard Bourne 21
Pocasset River Pocasset River Marina (Public) Bourne 17
Pocasset River Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 25 88
Red Brook Harbor Kingman Marine Bourne 235 135
Red Brook Harbor Parkers Boat Yard Bourne 9 134
Red Brook Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 34 277
Squeteague Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 11 70
Wings Cove Public Moorings/ Town Slips Bourne 1 23
Apponogansett Bay Condordia Dartmouth 58 300
Apponogansett Bay Davis & Tripp Dartmouth 90 2
Apponogansett Bay New Bedford Yacht Club Dartmouth 150
Apponogansett Bay Public Moorings/ Town Slips Dartmouth 122 358
Clark’s Cove Public Moorings Dartmouth 30 30
Little River Public Moorings Dartmouth 10
Slocums River Public Moorings Dartmouth 30
East Cove, West Island Public Moorings Fairhaven 22
Little Bay Town: Knollmere Beach/Little Bay Fairhaven 10
Nasketucket Bay Earls Marina Fairhaven 85 60
Nasketucket Bay_Seaview Ave Public Moorings Fairhaven 13
New Bedford Inner Harbor Acushnet River Safe Boating Club Fairhaven 0 148
New Bedford Inner Harbor Cozy Cove Marina Fairhaven 69 20
New Bedford Inner Harbor Cozy Cove Marina Basin (Public) Fairhaven 10
New Bedford Inner Harbor Fairhaven Shipyard Fairhaven 150 0
New Bedford Inner Harbor Fairhaven Shipyard N. Basin (Public) Fairhaven 0 7
New Bedford Inner Harbor Fairhaven Shipyard S. Basin (Public) Fairhaven 0 3
New Bedford Inner Harbor Kelley Fairhaven 40 0
New Bedford Inner Harbor Moby Dick Fairhaven 48 0
New Bedford Inner Harbor N. Crow Island Basin (Public) Fairhaven 25
New Bedford Inner Harbor Seaport Marina Fairhaven 102 0
Fiddler’s Cove Brewer Fiddler’s Cove Marina Falmouth 120 0
Fiddler’s Cove Public Moorings Falmouth
Megansett Public Moorings Falmouth 138
Quisett Harbor Public Moorings Falmouth 240
Quisett Harbor Quisett Boat Yard Falmouth
Rands Canal Public Moorings Falmouth 15
West Falmouth Harbor Public Moorings Falmouth 348
Wild Harbor Public Moorings Falmouth 109
Wild Harbor Wild Harbor Yacht Club Falmouth
Cuttyhunk Pond Public Moorings-Dredge Basin Gosnold 46
Cuttyhunk Pond Private Moorings-Dredge Basin Gosnold 15
Cuttyhunk Harbor Non Dredge Harvor Gosnold 46 22
Cuttyhunk Harbor Marina Gosnold 76
Cuttyhunk Harbor Public Moorings-Outside Gosnold 37
Robinson’s Hole/Nash. Harbor Public Moorings Gosnold 4
Hadley Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Docks Gosnold 18
Aucoot Cove Public Moorings Marion 17
Blankenship Cove Public Moorings Marion 48
Hammett Cove Public Moorings Marion 85
Planting Island Cove Public Moorings Marion 90
Sippican Harbor Barden’s Boat Yard Marion 0 90
Sippican Harbor Beverly Yacht Club Marion 22
Sippican Harbor Burr Brothers Marion 34 170
Sippican Harbor- Old Landing Town Docks Marion 100
Sippican Harbor-Inner Harbor Public Moorings Marion 732
Sippican Harbor-Jobs Cove Public Moorings Marion 24
Weweantic River Public Moorings Marion 71
Wings cove Public Moorings Marion 90
Aucoot Cove Aucoot Boat Yard Mattapoisett 95
Aucoot Cove Public Moorings Mattapoisett 5
Brandt Island Cove Brant Island Cove (public) Mattapoisett 0 12
Brandt Island Cove Ringuette’s Marina Mattapoisett 75 0
Mattapoisett Harbor Mattapoisett BoatYard Mattapoisett 9 200
Mattapoisett Harbor Public Moorings Mattapoisett 0 494
Pt. Connett Public Moorings Mattapoisett 45
Clark’s Cove Public Moorings New Bedford 30 90
New Bedford Inner Harbor Capt. Leroy New Bedford 60 15
New Bedford Inner Harbor Pope’s Island Marine New Bedford 50 30
New Bedford Inner Harbor Public New Bedford 885 60
New Bedford Outer Harbor Public New Bedford 60
New Bedford Outer Harbor Billy Woods Wharf New Bedford 10 30
Butlers Cove Public Wareham 35
Buttermilk Continental Marine Wareham 54
Buttermilk Maco’s Wareham 32
Buttermilk Bay Public Moorings Wareham 30
Onset Bay Onset Bay Marina Wareham 100 25
Onset Bay Public Moorings/ Town Docks Wareham 250 345
Onset Bay-Broad Cove Public Moorings Wareham 35
Onset Bay-Stonebridge Town Docks Wareham 60
Onset bay-Sunset Cove Public Moorings Wareham 40
Wareham River Public Moorings Wareham 0 311
Wareham River Warrs Marina Wareham 116 65
Weweantic River Public Moorings Wareham 18
Weweantic River Wareham Boatyard Wareham 28 12
East Branch Public Moorings/ Town Docks Westport 130 100
West Branch Public Moorings/ Town Docks Westport 30 30
Westport Harbor George Leach & Sons Westport 50
Westport Harbor Public Moorings/ Town Docks Westport 110 225
Westport Harbor Spindle Rock Westport 100
Westport Harbor Tripp FL & Sons Westport 250 125
Westport Harbor Westport Yacht Club Westport 80
TOTALS 4214 8043


Appendix B. Figures cited.

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