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Boat sewage ban proposed in N.Y. canal system

In an effort to improve the water quality of upstate New York, the Environmental Protection Agency has given preliminary approval to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's proposal to establish a "No Discharge Zone" throughout the New York State Canal System.

If the proposal is approved, the discharge of sewage from boats into canal waters will be prohibited. Boat sewage discharge can contain harmful levels of bacteria and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols, and chlorine, which negatively impact water quality and impair marine life. EPA is asking the public to comment on this plan.

The New York State Canal System is 524 miles long and includes the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain and Oswego canals; as well as Onondaga, Oneida and Cross Lakes. Currently, vessels operating in these waters are not restricted from discharging treated sewage from approved marine sanitation devices. When a "No Discharge" Zone is established, boats are required to use pumpout stations to dispose of waste.

A 30-day public comment period began March 15. EPA will review and respond to any comments received. Written comments must be postmarked no later than April 14 and should be addressed to: Moses Chang, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, Clean Water Regulatory Branch, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, New York, 10007-1866. Telephone: (212) 637-3867. They can also be e-mailed to Please include "Comments on Tentative Affirmative Decision for NYS Canal NDZ" in the subject line of the message.

For information about No Discharge Zones, visit

Region 2's No-Discharge Zone website:

To view a map of the New York State Canal System, visit the New York State Canal Corporation's site: