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Proposed Boat Sewage Ban for Lake Erie to be Decided Soon

While we often think of the discharge of cannons, consideration should given to the e discharge of human waste. Both wind up in the same place.
New EPA regulations may make the discharge of human waste from boats into Lake Erie, 200 year old practice, a thing of the past.

With centuries of maritime activity and a century of heavy industry situated on its shores, Lake Erie's environmental health has been an ongoing concern for decades. So it came as no surprise when last December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made its initial determination to head toward making it illegal for boaters to dump their raw sewage into the New York portion of the lake.

The EPA is seeking to establish a “no-discharge zone” on the 593 square miles of Lake Erie that lies within New York, as well as Lake Erie's New York-bounded tributaries, harbors and bays.

This would include the Upper Niagara River.

Lake Ontario and the Lower Niagara are already covered by a similar no discharge ban.

So far, the EPA has determined there are sufficient sewage pumpout facilities for all Lake Erie boaters, except for large commercial boats.

After receiving public comments concerning the availability for commercial vessels, the EPA determined that, while there are no fixed pump-out facilities at either the Ports of Buffalo or Lackawanna that can handle commercial ships, there are mobile pump-out services available for hire, including septic waste haulers or pump-out trucks, which can come to the ports and service the vessels while they are docked.

After conferring with the New York State DEC, the EPA confirmed its initial decision to create the no-discharge zone and again solicited public comments - which it did until Oct. 27-- regarding the proposed ban.

This proposed ban comes 39 years after Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, establishing water pollution limits with Canada in an International Water Quality Agreement. This took several decades to take effect, but has led to a great increase in water quality. The proposed no- discharge plan would continue the effort to keep Lake Erie a sustainable resource while protecting the lake's fragile eco system.

“Declaring this area of Lake Erie a ‘no discharge zone’ would provide cleaner water for Lake Erie and the people who use the lake,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. Among other lakes in New York, Lake Ontario, Lake George, Lake Champlain already have no discharge zones.

The principal objection to the ban is the cost of pumping out sewage which is more expensive than dumping it freely in the lake. Boats have been dumping raw sewage into Lake Erie since the War of 1812.

Discharges of boat sewage sometimes contain formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine along with the usual combination of human feces and urine.

These ingredients can impact water quality, pose risks to human health and impair marine life.

Plus they make swimming a lot less fun.




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 29, 2013