A new law banning the discharge of boat sewage into Long Island Sound goes into effect Thursday, two days after Rep. Tim Bishop and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the measure at West Meadow Beach in Old Field.
"It's a great step forward for the Long Island Sound," Bishop said by phone on Wednesday. "This ensures that it remains a fishable, swimmable body of water that the public can safely enjoy. The [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] made the judgement, and I think it's wonderful."
The ban establishes a No-Discharge Zone along the entire North Shore of Long Island, joining Connecticut's own no-dumping zone to the north, effectively banning the dumping of boat sewage anywhere in a 760-square-mile area.
Boaters are now required to visit specially designated pump-out stations. The law mandates a $250 penalty for the first offense.
Discharges of this type of sewage can carry harmful levels of pathogens and certain chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, according to the EPA.
“Clean water is one of New York’s most valuable assets, and pumping sewage from boats into local waters is a practice that is both harmful and completely unnecessary,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a statement. “Establishing a no-discharge zone for the New York portions of Long Island Sound is an important step to further protect water quality and vital aquatic habitat in the Sound.”
DEC commissioner Joe Martens said the new zone "closes a loophole exposed by boaters from neighboring states who have restrictions in place” and could previously cross into the Sound's New York waters to dump their sewage.
Connecticut designated its portion of the Sound an No-Dischagrge Zone in 2007. According to EPA press officer John Senn, the agency can only act to establish such a zone once a petition has been brought by a state, in this case via the DEC. The new No Discharge Zone was
Previous New York No-Discharge Zones in the Sound had been established in Mamaroneck Harbor, the Huntington-Northport Bay Complex, Port Jefferson Complex, Hempstead Harbor and Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Complex.