CHESTER – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has announced that the Chester River and its tributaries are now a no-discharge zone, a water zone where all sewage discharges from boats – even when treated by a device sanitation – is prohibited. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed and approved the no-discharge zone, which is enforceable by state law enforcement as well as the United States Coast Guard.
The Chester River is the third non-discharge zone in Maryland waters, after Herring Bay and the northern coastal bays. A fourth in Anne Arundel County is expected to come into effect later in 2021. The precise locations of Maryland’s no-landfill zones are detailed in the Code of Maryland Regulations on the department’s website.
It is already illegal to discharge untreated sewage anywhere within a three-mile radius of the US coast, but a no-discharge zone also prohibits the discharge of waste into the designated area. When operating in an area without landfill, boaters with these devices on board should secure them. Acceptable methods of securing these systems include locking the door on the head or deactivating the flotation valve.
A majority of boaters have installed retention tanks, which are emptied at pumping stations. The EPA’s primary measure for approving a discharge-free zone for an area is adequate pumping facilities. In the Chester River there are 16 pumping stations that have been funded by the federal Clean Vessel Act and grants from the State Waterways Improvement Fund administered by the MNR. Boaters pay into these funds through excise taxes on fishing gear and marine fuel and when they obtain title to their boats in Maryland.
Alleged violations can be reported to the Maryland Department of the Environment at 410-537-3510 (weekdays) or 866-MDE-GOTO (evenings and weekends). All other violations related to the operation of vessels should be reported to the Natural Resources Police at 410-260-8888.
More information about dumps and no-dump zones in Maryland is available on the MNR website. To report an inoperative pumping station, citizens should send an email to [email protected]