The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposal for a Puget Sound No Discharge Zone for public comment. The No Discharge Zone creates an area in which ships and boats are not allowed to discharge vessel sewage of any kind.
When finalized, the No Discharge Zone will join more than 70 others around the country, including zones in the Great Lakes and the entire California coast. It will be the first one in Washington State.
Environmental groups have been advocating for many years for this important clean water protection.
“A No Discharge Zone is an important step for Puget Sound recovery,” says Chris Wilke, Puget Soundkeeper and Executive Director, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “These zones have been highly successful in other areas to protect human health, shellfish resources and sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife. It’s high time we had one for all of Puget Sound.”
Marcie Keever, Oceans and Vessels Program Director for Friends of the Earth continues, “As shipping traffic and ship size continues to increase, vessels are generating a growing volume of air and water pollution. Without the protection of a No Discharge Zone Puget Sound would be facing even greater ecosystem harm from ship sewage.”
Mindy Roberts, Puget Sound Program Director for Washington Environmental Council adds, “Puget Sound water is incredibly connected, and pollution released in one location can impact water quality many miles away. Establishing the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone is a common-sense action that reflects its ecological and economic value.”
Puget Sound residents and people around the country sent in tens of thousands of emails to the Washington State Department of Ecology supporting a No Discharge Zone when it released the draft proposal in 2015. In crafting the proposal, the Department worked with industry groups, government agencies and environmental groups. The resulting draft rule contains extended timelines, up to five years, for some industry sectors to implement the requirements.
The EPA is accepting public comments on the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone proposal until December 7, 2016.
The zone covers all marine waters of Washington State inward from the line between New Dungeness Lighthouse and the Discovery Island Lighthouse to the Canadian border, and fresh waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters between and to Puget Sound.
The western boundary of the NDZ would be the exit of the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the entrance of Admiralty Inlet. This boundary is known and visible to vessel operators as it is the line between New Dungeness Lighthouse and Discovery Island Lighthouse. The northern boundary would be the border with Canada and heading south including all marine waters down to the south end of the south Sound and Hood Canal. The fresh waters of Lake Washington, Union Bay, Montlake Cut, Portage Bay, Lake Union, Fremont Cut, the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Salmon Bay (the connecting waters from Lake Washington to Puget Sound) would be included.
More details are available here.