Safeguarding Water Quality Of Long Island Sound
Seeking to safeguard water quality and improve recreational opportunities, state officials announced today that they are calling for New York's portion of Long Island Sound to be designated as a marine vessel "No Discharge Zone" by the United States Environmental Protection AgencyA "No Discharge Zone" (NDZ) designation means that boaters are banned from discharging their on-board sewage into the waters. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at specially designated pump-out stations. Discharges of sewage from boats often contains harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which harm water quality, pose a risk to people's health, and impair marine life and habitats.The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in collaboration with the state Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) and the Department of State (DOS), has prepared a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting the designation to protect the waters of the Long Island Sound. The petition proposes a one-year phase-in for commercial vessels to comply with the No Discharge Zone dumping prohibition to allow time for pumpout stations serving such boats to be established."With this request, we are taking an important step to protect and improve the quality of Long Island Sound's waters," DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. "In addition to making the water cleaner, this move will help in the on-going efforts to restore the Sound's aquatic habitat and make recreational opportunities in the Sound more enjoyable. This action will provide benefits for generations to come."New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President and C.E.O. Matthew J. Driscoll said: "Designating the Long Island Sound an NDZ will be a watershed moment for environmental protection in New York. For decades, the Sound's waters have had to cope with boat-related pollution. In requesting the NDZ designation, we recognize its invaluable recreational and commercial benefits, estimated at roughly $8 billion per year. At the same time, we are pleased to work closely with our state partners and coastal communities to provide boaters the services needed to restore and protect this remarkable waterbody."Since 1976, New York State has established 12 other No Discharge Zones, including five on Long Island Sound: Mamaroneck Harbor (1997), the Greater Huntington-Northport Bay Complex (2000), the Port Jefferson Harbor Complex (2001), the Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor Complex (2008), and Hempstead Harbor (2008). In May, DEC announced that it had set a goal of 2012 to establish No Discharge Zones for waterbodies and waterways everywhere in New York State. The Long Island Sound petition is part of the state's continuing and aggressive effort to meet that goal.In 2006, all of Connecticut's Long Island Sound waters were designated as a No Discharge Zone. While New York State had been focusing on establishing No Discharge Zones for individual bays in the Sound, a more recent evaluation demonstrates that there are adequate pumpout facilities to establish a No Discharge Zone for the entire Sound. Approval of New York's petition would extend such protection to the remainder of the Sound - approximately 760 square miles from Hell Gate Bridge in the west, to the northern bounds of Block Island Sound in the east."New York State is blessed with some of the most incredible water resources in the nation which we treasure as both environmental and economic assets," Commissioner Grannis added. "Every step we take to protect and improve these resources is important for to ensure a step forward in creating healthy, vibrant, successful communities."Upon concurrence by EPA, an opportunity for public comment will be announced in the Federal Register. When that concludes, EPA will address comments and make a determination as to whether there are an adequate number of vessel pumpouts to support the No Discharge Zone. If EPA concurs, the No Discharge Zone would be enforced by DEC law enforcement, State Police and local authorities.