The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tentatively determined there are adequate facilities around Lake Erie for boats to pump out their sewage, allowing 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 no discharge zone, which was proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, means boats would be banned from discharging sewage into the water. Boaters would instead dispose of their sewage at specially designed pump-out stations. This action is part of a joint EPA/New York state strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the state's waterways.
"This proposal will help protect water quality and marine life in Lake Erie for years to come," said Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator. "Creating a no discharge zone for the New York portions of Lake Erie is an important step in protecting this amazing water body."
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. EPA is encouraging public comment on its proposed approval until Jan. 6.
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 boundary, as well as the Upper Niagara River and numerous other tributaries, harbors and embayments of the Lake, including Barcelona Harbor, Dunkirk Harbor and the Buffalo Outer Harbor.
EPA's tentative determination is available in the Federal Register at: www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.
Lake Erie, its harbors, bays, creeks and wetlands support fish spawning areas and habitat, commercial and recreational boating and recreational opportunities.
For more information about no discharge zones, visit www.epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html.
To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 212-637-3891 or send comments to Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.