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Anne Arundel County No Discharge Zone Takes Effect July 1

New Protection in Place for 13 Bodies of Water

Photo of sailboat on river at sunset

Photo by Emily Carter Mitchell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), along with the Severn River Association, Anne Arundel County, and the City of Annapolis, announce that a federally approved No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designation for 13 bodies of water in Anne Arundel County, including Annapolis Harbor, takes effect July 1, 2022.

After receiving a request for an NDZ from the Severn River Association, Anne Arundel County, and the City of Annapolis, DNR and MDE applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for additional protection of Anne Arundel County waters in May 2020. After significant review and public comment, the NDZ is now final.

“The No Discharge Zone is an important protection for some of our most important waterways,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said. “This is another great example of how Maryland is enhancing recreation while also protecting our natural resources, so we are pleased that this important policy is moving forward.”

“The establishment of this No Discharge Zone is an important step in strengthening the protection of waterways throughout Anne Arundel County,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Horacio Tablada. “MDE is proud to have been part of this collaborative effort toward clean water progress.”

Maryland sought NDZ designation for these waters due to a high concentration of boats, the presence of resources sensitive to boat sewage, a prevalence of water contact activities, impairments for nutrients and sediments, and strong local support for added protection​.

“Finally winning this designation for our county’s rivers is a major victory,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. “Applying for this designation in partnership with our watershed protection groups came early in my term in office, and I look forward to celebrating its implementation on July 1.”

“The NDZ designation will help the city and county close a gap in their efforts to attain their Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction goals, which focus on the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus,” said Annapolis Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability Jacqueline Guild. “Current on-board treatment systems do not reduce these nutrients that stimulate plant and algae growth, which in turn, leads to less oxygen in the water for aquatic life. The NDZ will also raise awareness among the general public that all vessels must use a pump-out station or pump-out boat to dispose of waste.”

The complete list of waters in the NDZ is available online.

A NDZ is an area of water where the discharge of all boat sewage, including waste treated by certified onboard Type I or II marine sanitation devices  is prohibited. Discharge of raw or untreated sewage from vessels is already prohibited anywhere within three-miles of the U.S. coast. 

Type I and II marine sanitation devices treat waste to set standards and kill pathogens before discharging the remaining effluent overboard. About 90% of recreational boats have installed sewage holding tanks — Type III marine sanitation devices – and can empty them at one of more than 350 pumpout stations across the state.

As part of the NDZ application process. DNR and EPA determined that there are adequate pumpout facilities within the area for commercial and recreational vessels. Boats with Type I or II marine sanitation devices can operate in NDZs provided the toilet — or head — is disabled. 

More information about pumpouts and complying with NDZs in Maryland is available on the DNR website. To report an NDZ violation, citizens should call MDE at 410-537-3510 (weekdays) or 866-MDE-GOTO (evenings and weekends). To report an inoperable pumpout station, citizens should email or call 410-260-8772.