The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced today a preliminary decision to support a No Discharge Zone—or NDZ—for Puget Sound. The EPA is accepting public comment on the NDZ until December 7, 2016.
An NDZ is a designated body of water where the discharge of toilet sewage from boats is prohibited. There are 90 NDZs in 26 states, but until now none in Washington state.
With support from the Puget Sound Partnership, Department of Health, and Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Ecology in July asked the EPA to approve the No Discharge Zone. The NDZ will encompass all of Puget Sound (except for the Strait of Juan de Fuca) and the fresh waters of Lake Washington and Lake Union.
The No Discharge Zone is one of the actions listed in the Puget Sound Action Agenda, and it’s been listed now for several years. During that time the Department of Ecology has worked extensively with the maritime industry and the boating community to minimize the impact the NDZ designation might have on them. Now we need to make the NDZ happen. Here’s why:
- The designation has strong and broad support. Our 27-member Ecosystem Coordination Board specifically endorsed it. The board advises the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council, and members represent specific interests around the Sound, including federal, state and local governments, tribes, non-profit organizations, and businesses.
- The designation helps to advance progress toward one of our region’s top three recovery priorities: The restoration and re-opening of shellfish beds. Healthy shellfish beds are critically important to the web of life out there in the Sound. They are also critically important to the people who live here, work in the shellfish industry and eat the food that Puget Sound gives us.
Recovering Puget Sound involves extensive coordination, input and review from scientists, community support and involvement, and a collective willingness to collaborate and compromise, to work together even when we disagree.
The No Discharge Zone designation won’t fix all the problems our Puget Sound ecosystem struggles with. But it is one more thing we can and should do to save our much loved Sound. Let’s get this done.