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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Ideas for a Cleaner Environment
Published monthly by the NH Department of Environmental Services Watershed Assistance Program, Concord, NH (603) 271-7889

June, 2006

Help Keep Boat Sewage Out of New Hampshire Waters

Going out on your boat in New Hampshire coastal waters this summer? If your boat has a toilet system, you need to know about a law that went into effect last fall.

In September 2005, to protect the numerous shellfish beds, beaches, and other recreational opportunities on New Hampshire’s coast, the Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) designated its coastal waters as a No Discharge Area for boat sewage.

A No Discharge Area is a body of water where all boat sewage discharge, whether treated or untreated, is prohibited. New Hampshire’s coastal No Discharge Area consists of all tidal and estuarine waters, including all bays and rivers, and also ocean waters within three miles of the New Hampshire shoreline and the Isles of Shoals.

By prohibiting the discharge of boat sewage, NHDES is helping to protect the state’s sensitive natural resources. Boat sewage discharges are highly concentrated with bacteria and nutrients, and may also contain toxic disinfectants such as formaldehyde. These pollutants can contribute to unhealthy water for shellfish, other fauna and flora and unsafe conditions for swimming and other activities.

To comply with the No Discharge law, boats with holding tanks or portable toilets must pumpout their wastes at an onshore pumpout station or via the mobile pumpout boat. Those boats with treatment systems (maceration and/or disinfection) must prohibit the overboard discharge of sewage. This can include closing the seacock and padlocking it or attaching a non-releasable wire tie; locking the door to the head; or removing the seacock handle (with seacock in the off position!). If your boat has both a treatment system and holding tank, simply divert the sewage wastes to the holding tank and remove the wastes either through a pumpout station or overboard after the boat is outside the No Discharge Area boundaries.

It is permissible to discharge treated sewage in waters that are not formally designated as a No Discharge Area, however untreated sewage must be removed via a pumpout station at all times.

Pumpout stations service boats with fixed toilets while dump stations collect wastes from portable toilets. New Hampshire’s coastal waters are currently serviced by five stationary pumpout stations located at marinas and one mobile pumpout boat that can travel to where the service is required.

To protect New Hampshire’s lakes and rivers, NHDES also enforces a "No Discharge" law for inland waters. Boats cannot contain devices that will allow for overboard discharge of boat sewage. In addition, New Hampshire state law requires all boats with onboard toilets be inspected to ensure compliance with the laws. There are 18 pumpout and/or dump stations available at marinas throughout the Lakes Region.

If you own a boat with a toilet, please do your part to reduce pollution by using pumpout and dump stations. To find a pumpout or dump station near you, on New Hampshire coastal and inland waters, visit the NHDES Clean Vessel Act Web site.

EPA New England has set a goal of making all New England coastal waters No Discharge by 2010. Visit the EPA Web site to read a plan for this goal.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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