In 2006, Connecticut took major strides toward banning sewage discharged from boats.
The State received approval from the EPA for its third No Discharge Area (NDA) for the Sound, and also applied for a fourth NDA that would complete the ban from Rhode Island to the New York State line.
The latest approved NDA restricts boaters with toilets from discharging treated sewage in the waters from Groton to Guilford. Now, boaters must use pumpout boats or pumpout facilities on shore. The state received the designation after demonstrating to EPA that vessel waste could affect local water quality, and that sufficient pumpout facilities were available to boaters.
There are an estimated 20,000 boats with toilets in Connecticut waters at any time during the boating season. Pollution from these boats is a relatively small contributor to water quality problems, but a discharge could be a serious local problem. Raw or poorly treated sewage can spread disease, contaminate shellfish beds, and lower oxygen levels in water, causing stress to fish and other aquatic animals.
“Discharge of sewage in poorly flushed harbors or coves where vessels may congregate can certainly pose a significant water quality issue,” said Rick Huntley, Supervising Environmental Analyst with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Office of Long Island Sound Programs. “Even a small discharge of sewage over a shellfish bed could make people sick from eating shellfish raw.”