b'LEGISLATIVE REPORTLEGISLATIVE Contending with No Discharge Zonesfor treated vessel sewage effluentED WELCH // PVA LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORO n Feb. 14, 2002, a federal judge inyou to alter vessel procedures for the dischargeDespite the default position of the Clean Wa-Washington,D.C.rejectedalegalof treated sewage effluent. ter Act allowing the discharge of treated sew-challenge brought by the Americanage effluent from vessels, section 312(f) of the Waterways Operators (AWO) against the U.S.BeforeexaminingthesituationwithNDZs,statute also permits states to establish NDZs, EnvironmentalProtectionAgency(EPA).however, it is essential that every vessel oper- but only pursuant to criteria set out in three In the lawsuit now known as American Wa- ator keep in mind that under federal law it isseparate subsections. Most of the NDZs estab-terways Operators v. Regan, the court ruledabsolutely forbidden for any vessel to dischargelished to date (with the notable exception of that EPA had properly certified that adequateuntreatedsewagedirectlyintoU.S.waters,California, discussed below) have been based facilitiesfortheremovalandtreatmentofincluding those ocean waters extending threeon section 312(f)(3) of the Clean Water Act. vessel sewage effluent were reasonably avail- miles seaward from the coastline. Violators canThis provision allows for a state to determine able,therebyvalidatingWashingtonStatesexpect to be treated severely. In 2006, the gen- that the protection and enhancement of the designation of all of Puget Sound as a Noeral manager of a ferry company in the north- quality of some or all of the waters within such Discharge Zone for treated effluent producedeastern United States was jailed for 30 days andstaterequiregreaterenvironmentalprotec-by vessels. ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for his opera- tion than the federal standard achieved by the tions deliberate discharge of untreated sewageuse of an MSD.Lets explore exactly what is a No Dischargeon multiple occasions.Zone (NDZ) and how it may affect the oper- As a condition of establishing a section 312(f)ations of PVA vessel members. As for properly-treated vessel sewage, the fed- (3) NDZ, the state must petition the EPA to eral Clean Water Act governs how the effluentcertify that adequate facilities for the safe and Its not uncommon for PVA members to op- can be discharged. As a general rule, this lawsanitary removal and treatment of sewage from erate on waters that have been designated asallows a vessel to discharge such treated sewageall[emphasisadded]vesselsarereasonably an NDZ for disposal of treated vessel sewageeffluent into U.S. navigable waters if that efflu- available for such water to which the prohibi-effluent. For those members with vessels thatent has been processed through a U.S. Coasttion would apply. This means that the peti-dont operate in such waters, it is prudent toGuard-approvedMarineSanitationDevicetioning state must demonstrate that there are understand how an NDZ is designated and(MSD) that cleans the effluent to a standard setfacilities (for example, dockside pump-out sta-how such a designation in the future may causeby the EPA. tions or adequate numbers of tanker trucks or barges) for both recreational and commercial vessels. It is not enough to show, for example, that there are adequate reception facilities for recreational craft; there also must be sufficient facilities to accommodate the needs of com-mercial vessels.attention to detail No Discharge Zones for treated sewage efflu-ent from vessels have spread across the country. They can be found in 28 states. Most coastal waters in northeastern states from New Jersey to the Canadian border have been declared to be NDZs. New York waters of Lakes Ontario, Erie, Champlain, and George are NDZs. So are the Michigan state waters of Lakes Mich-igan, Superior, and Huron. Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan (but not those of Lake Su-perior) are within an NDZ. Lake Champlain waters in Vermont are so designated. Coastal waters of the southern half of North Carolina are an NDZ, as are waters of Lake Tahoe (Ne-vada and California) and much of Lake Powell (Utah and Arizona). Waters around Key West, Florida, and the waters of the Florida Key Na-tional Marine Sanctuary are NDZs.www.beurteaux.comFOGHORN 20'