The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed that a “no discharge zone” can be established for Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and the Seneca River. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation petitioned the EPA to prohibit boats from discharging sewage into these waters by establishing a “no discharge zone” for the area. The EPA has reviewed the petition and found that there are adequate facilities around Lakes Cayuga and Seneca for boats to pump out their sewage, rather than dumping it in the water.

Sewage discharges from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and impair marine life. The EPA is encouraging the public to comment on its proposed approval until May 17, 2015.

The proposed “no discharge zone” for Cayuga and Seneca Lakes includes Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, the Seneca River, and the connected navigable tributaries. Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake are water bodies of unique ecological, economic and public health significance as well as drinking water sources. Establishing a “no discharge zone” for these lakes would help protect the water quality and marine life.

This action is part of an EPA/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the state’s waterways. New York State water bodies that have already been established as “no discharge zones” include Lakes Erie, Ontario, Champlain, and George, the New York State Canal System and the Hudson River, among others.

EPA’s determination is available at the Federal Register website.