[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 209 (Friday, October 28, 2011)]
[Pages 66927-66929]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27990]




New York State Prohibition of Discharges of Vessel Sewage; Final 
Affirmative Determination

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of determination.


SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to Clean Water Act 
Section 312(f)(3) (33 U.S.C. 1322(f)(3)), the State of New York has 
determined that the protection and enhancement of the quality of 
Jamaica Bay (the Bay) in the New York City metropolitan area requires 
greater environmental protection, and has petitioned the United States 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2, for a determination 
that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and 
treatment of sewage from all vessels are reasonably available for those 
waters, so that the State may completely prohibit the discharge from 
all vessels of any sewage, whether treated or not, into such waters.
    The New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) on behalf of 
the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) has 
proposed to establish a Vessel Waste No Discharge Zone (NDZ) for the 
Bay that covers an area of approximately 20,000 acres (17,177 acres of 
open water and 2,695 acres of upland islands and salt marshes). It is 
bounded on the west and northwest by Brooklyn, and on the north and 
northeast by Queens. The northeastern and southeastern corners of the 
Bay are bordered by Nassau County. The northern shore of the Rockaway 
Peninsula, a part of Queens, forms the southern boundary. The Bay is 
connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Rockaway Inlet and has a 
tidal range of approximately 5 to 6 feet. The NYSDEC certified the need 
for greater protection of the water quality. EPA hereby makes a final 
affirmative determination that adequate facilities for the safe and 
sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels are 
reasonably available for the Bay.
    EPA published a tentative affirmative determination on August 3, 
2011 in the Federal Register. Public comments were solicited for 30 
days and the comment period ended on September 2, 2011. EPA received a 
total of twenty (25) comments via letter and email. The comment tally 
was twenty-three (23) in favor of, and two (2) questioning or opposing, 
the No Discharge Zone designation. All the relevant comments received 
have been considered in the final affirmative determination. This 
Federal Register document will address all comments submitted in 
response to the August 3, 2011 (Volume 76 Issue 149) Federal Register 

Response to Comments

    1. Comment: Twenty-three commenters including boaters, paddlers, 
kayakers, non-governmental organizations, and community advocates 
expressed strong support for EPA's action to establish a vessel waste 
no discharge zone for the Bay. Some commenters pointed out that this 
action will reduce pathogens and chemicals, improve water quality and 
further protect and restore the Bay.
    EPA Response: EPA is in full agreement that designating the Bay is 
an important step to further protect this valuable natural resource, 
water quality, wetlands and habitats throughout the entire the Bay 
    2. Comment: One commenter stated that discharges from several small 
tugs with the required Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) are a 
relatively small source of pollution compared to the pollution caused 
by 1,200 to 1,500 of recreational vessels that utilized the Bay.
    EPA Response: These comments go beyond the scope of EPA's authority 
in this action. Because EPA's authority here is limited to determining 
whether adequate pumpout facilities exist, it cannot base its 
determination on whether commercial vessel sewage is comparable in 
quantity or impact to other sources of pollution, or whether banning 
such discharges is otherwise unfair to commercial boaters. However, it 
is noted that the sewage discharged from MSDs is treated with chlorine, 
quaternary ammonia and formaldehyde, which can all pose threats to the 
marine environment, especially if present in

[[Page 66928]]

substantial, concentrated amounts. EPA agrees with the NYSDEC, which 
certifies that the protection and enhancement of the waters of the Bay 
require greater environmental protection than the applicable federal 
regulations. Moreover, as noted above, the prohibition of sewage 
discharges pursuant to Clean Water Act Section 312(f)(3) applies to all 
    3. Comment: One commenter stated that the pumpout facilities that 
serve recreational vessels may not be reasonably available to 
commercial towboats and barges that service two oil terminals and two 
sand and gravel handling facilities located near Inwood at the head of 
the Bay, because some of those commercial vessels are too large to dock 
where the recreational vessel pumpout facilities are located. The 
commenter also stated that the type II flow-through MSD systems 
installed on the majority of their tugs have no storage capacity to 
retain effluent onboard.
    EPA Response: EPA and NYCDEP gathered additional information about 
the location and accessibility of pumpout trucks in relation to 
commercial vessels that service the oil terminal and sand and gravel 
facilities. Pumpout trucks are readily available for hire and are able 
to reach commercial vessels on commercial docks at the head of the Bay. 
Therefore, commercial vessel operators can make arrangements to hire 
pumpout trucks and have their vessels pumped out at the accessible 
commercial docks. Alternatively, the tugs and barges could discharge 
sewage while at their home port(s). In order to achieve the storage 
capacity needed to hold sewage on board, a Type II MSD can be converted 
to a Type III MSD, commonly called a holding tank, which can be 
equipped with the valve, usually called a Y-valve, needed to discharge 
to a pumpout truck.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moses Chang (212) 637-3867, email 
address: chang.moses@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is hereby given that the State of New 
York (NYS or State) has petitioned the United States Environmental 
Protection Agency, Region 2, (EPA) pursuant to section 312(f)(3) of 
Public Law 92-500 as amended by Public Law 95-217 and Public Law 100-4, 
that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and 
treatment of sewage from all vessels are reasonably available for the 
open waters and tributaries of the Bay, so that the State may 
completely prohibit the discharge from all vessels of any sewage, 
whether treated or not, into such waters. Adequate pumpout facilities 
are defined as one pumpout station for 300-600 boats under the Clean 
Vessel Act: Pumpout Station and Dump Station Technical Guidelines 
(Federal Register, Vol. 59, No. 47, March 10, 1994).
    The Bay is the largest estuarine water body in the New York City 
metropolitan area and one of the largest coastal wetland ecosystems in 
New York State. The open waters and tributaries within the Bay provide 
important natural and recreational resources for boating and 
recreational activities that contribute significantly to the local and 
regional economy. In 2005, the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan 
(JBWPP) was put into motion by the City Council of New York City under 
Local Law 71 (LL 71). The objective of LL 71 is to ensure a holistic 
watershed approach toward restoring and maintaining the water quality 
and ecological integrity of the Bay. The JBWPP recommends management 
actions for protecting and improving the health of the Bay, e.g., 
adoption of appropriate regulations to mitigate the impacts of boat 
vessel waste discharges.
    The Bay is a component of the National Park Service's (NPS) Gateway 
National Recreation Area (GNRA). A significant portion of the Bay, 
approximately 9,100 acres, has also been designated by the NPS as the 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and is designated by the New York State 
Department of State (NYSDOS) as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife 
Habitat. The diversity of bird species and breeding habitats within the 
Bay were important factors in these designations. The Jamaica Bay 
Wildlife Refuge was also the first site to be designated by the 
National Audubon Society as an ``Important Bird Area.'' It is clear 
that the Bay is currently functioning as a regional habitat for many 
different species of wildlife. In combination with other water quality 
improvement initiatives, the NDZ designation will further enhance the 
recreational and ecological benefits of the Bay, potentially attracting 
more visitors to the Bay.
    In order for EPA to determine that adequate facilities for the safe 
and sanitary removal and treatment of sewage from all vessels are 
reasonably available for the New York State areas of the Bay, the State 
must demonstrate that the pumpout-to-vessel ratio does not exceed 
    In its petition, the State described the recreational vessels that 
use the Bay, and the pumpout facilities that are available for their 
use. Based on a review of NYS Department of Motor Vehicle boat 
registrations, site visits to marinas and reviewing high resolution 
orthoimagery of the Bay, NYCDEP has determined that there are 
approximately 1,200 to 1,500 boats that utilize the Bay throughout the 
boating season. This number may include a significant number of 
transient vessels and not only boats that are permanently moored in the 
    The Bay is primarily used for recreational boating with very little 
commercial traffic. The few commercial vessels that do enter the Bay 
are primarily sightseeing and fishing vessels which, pursuant to New 
York City regulations, must use private boat pumpout services to unload 
sewage within the Bay. Therefore, the boat pumpouts provided by NYCDEP 
within the Bay are utilized for recreational vessels only.
    There are four vessel pumpout facilities available in the Bay. 
Three of those are land-based pumpout facilities operated by NYCDEP, 
and the fourth is a 24-foot sewage pumpout vessel operated by New York/
New Jersey Baykeeper, that serves vessels docked or anchored throughout 
the Bay. All four facilities provide the pumpout services free of 
charge. Given that approximately 1,500 recreational vessels use the 
Bay, the pumpout-to-vessel ratio for those vessels is 1:375 (i.e., 4 
facilities for 1,500 boats). Therefore, the pumpout facilities in the 
Bay satisfy the Clean Vessel Act criterion of 1 pumpout per 300-600 
    A list of the facilities, phone numbers, locations, hours of 
operation, water depth and fee is provided as follows:

                List of Pumpouts in the Bay NDZ Proposed Area Available for Recreational Vessels
                                                       Contact        Dates/days/hours   Water depth
  Number           Name             Location         information       of  operation       (feet)        Cost
1.........  Hudson River       Paerdegat Basin..  718-251-9791;      May 1-Oct 31;             10-14  Free.
             Yacht Club.                           Channel 71.        daily, 10 a.m.-5

[[Page 66929]]

2.........  Coney Island WWTP  Shellbank Creek..  718-743-0990;      May 1-Oct 31; 24           8-10  Free.
                                                   Channel 13.        hrs.
3.........  Rockaway WWTP....  Jamaica Bay......  718-474-3663;      May 1-Oct 31; 24          10-14  Free.
                                                   Channel 68.        hrs.
4.........  NY/NJ Baykeeper's  Jamaica Bay......  732-337-9262;      Memorial Day to             N/A  Free.
             24 foot sewage-                       Channel 9.         Labor Day;
             pumpout vessel.                                          Sunrise to

Based on the above, EPA hereby makes a final affirmative determination 
that adequate facilities for the safe and sanitary removal and 
treatment of sewage from all vessels are available for the open waters 
and tributaries of the Bay of the New York City metropolitan area.

    Dated: September 30, 2011.
Judith A. Enck,
Regional Administrator, Region 2.
[FR Doc. 2011-27990 Filed 10-27-11; 8:45 am]