Microbial pathogens from sewage waste pose direct threats to human health and limit shellfishing and recreational uses. While waste discharged by vessels to surface water are often treated by marine sanitation devices, they still pose some risks and contain chemical additives, such as chlorine. No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designations are a key component of larger strategies for protecting navigable waters and educating the public about water quality.
Under the federal Clean Water Act, it’s illegal to discharge untreated (raw) sewage from a vessel in waters within three miles of the shore and in navigable rivers. When a body of water is designated as an NDZ, it prohibits discharging all boat sewage, treated or untreated.
The New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) collaborated with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help solicit stakeholder input and gauge support for the establishment of an NDZ for the Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays and their tributaries, Great Kills Harbor, and the East and South Shores of Staten Island. HEP and our partners conducted a stakeholder feedback process in 2019 to identify the potential effects of a "No Discharge Zone" designation on the communities surrounding our bays, and others who use the bay for business and recreation.
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