Most boaters know that dumping raw sewage from a boat is illegal in the bay’s waterways. But now boaters on more than a dozen waterways in Anne Arundel County, Maryland are also prohibited from discharging treated sewage.
Federal approval No dump area (NDZ) officially entered into force on July 1 for 13 bodies of water, including the Port of Annapolis. The Severn River Association, Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis have joined together to call for a no-dump zone. The Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Environment requested this protection from the federal government in May 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reviewed the application and sought public comment, and the NDZ is now final. The reason for this protection was the high concentration of boats and the popularity of water contact activities in the area.
Keeping sewage out of the water can reduce polluting nutrients. On the east coast, the Chester River is already designated as a no-discharge zone.
“The NDZ designation will help the city and county fill a gap in their efforts to meet their Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction goals, which focus on nitrogen and phosphorus reduction,” said Jacqueline. Guild, Annapolis City Assistant Director for Resilience and Sustainability.
Previously, it was legal to discharge waste treated by Type I or Type II certified marine sanitation devices. But the city of Annapolis says that’s not enough to keep the water clean.
“Current onboard treatment systems do not reduce these nutrients that stimulate plant and algae growth, resulting in less oxygen in the water for aquatic life. The NDZ will also educate the general public that all ships must use a dump station or dump boat to dispose of waste.
Now, boats will have to store sewage in their holding tanks (90 percent of recreational boats have them installed, according to the DNR) and have it emptied at one of more than 350 pump stations across Maryland. As part of the NDZ approval process, the EPA has verified that there are adequate pump stations near each of the affected water bodies.
“The no-discharge zone is an important protection for some of our most important waterways,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “This is another great example of how Maryland is enhancing recreation while protecting our natural resources, so we’re excited to see this important policy move forward.”
The full list of NDZ waters is available online.
If you need to report a pump station that isn’t working, email [email protected] or call 410-260-8772. If you see an NDZ violation, call MDE at 410-537-3510 (weekdays) or 866-MDE-GOTO (evenings and weekends).
-Meg Walburn Viviano