The state is seeking “vessel waste no discharge zone” status for the St. Lawrence River.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Department of State have submitted petitions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the designation under Clean Water Act protocols.
A “no discharge zone” designation means that boaters and shippers are not allowed to discharge their on-board sewage into the water. Boaters must instead dispose of their sewage at pump-out stations that are available for recreational boater use.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens says the state has helped establish and annually supports 37 pump-out facilities on the St. Lawrence River and on Lake Erie, providing recreational boaters with access to stations for the safe disposal of septic waste.
The designation would be aimed at reducing pollution on the waterways.
Both treated and untreated wastes can deliver pathogens and toxins to local waters and contribute to harmful nutrient loadings, according to the DEC. Waste treated by on-board septic systems often contains chemical additives such as formaldehyde, phenyls and chlorine. These pollutants can harm water quality, pose a risk to people’s health, and impair marine life and habitats.
Approval of the Lake Erie and St. Lawrence River petitions would extend protection to all of New York’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shoreline. Lake Ontario was designated a No Discharge Zone in 2011.