On Feb. 19, Washington state’s Environmental Protection Agency gave official notice of its intent to establish a No Discharge Zone for Puget Sound from the Canadian border to the southern end of the Sound. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is not included in the proposed NDZ. The public now has a 60-day comment period to weigh in on the proposal. The deadline is April 21.

The proposal petitions the federal EPA to establish the NDZ under authority of the Clean Water Act. All recreational and commercial vessels operating in Puget Sound would be affected.

Workboat and commercial fishing boat operators, many of whom operate in Puget Sound with Type 2 marine sanitation devices, strongly oppose the petition. Charlie Costanzo, AWO’s vice president for the Pacific region, said the creation of an NDZ in Puget Sound would put many commercial boats out of business. “From engineering to drydocking and installation of a holding tank, this could cost a boat owner about $125,000,” said Costanzo. “The changes could even affect vessel tonnage and classification certification.” 

Constanza also said that EPA hasn’t provided any studies to support the need for an NDZ. Another problem is the lack of pump-out facilities for larger, deeper-draft vessels. Many pump-out stations are located at recreational marinas.

Washington’s EPA said 94 percent of commercial vessels in Puget Sound have holding tanks and wouldn’t require any retrofitting.

To download a copy of the proposal and to comment on it, go to this page on the state EPA website.