South Shore bays inch toward protection from boat waste

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The federal Environmental Protection Agency has approved a proposal to have Long Island’s South Shore Estuary declared a “no discharge zone,” which prevents boats from emptying their waste tanks while within its boundaries.

The South Shore Estuary comprises the string of coastal bays along the island’s Atlantic shoreline, stretching 75 miles from East Rockaway Inlet to Taylor Creek in the easternmost reaches of Shinnecock Bay.

Approval for the discharge zone requires that the townships that surround it provide adequate pump-out facilities for boats to empty their tanks. Southampton Town has provided mobile pump-out services for years and other towns bounding on the estuary, like Brookhaven and Hempstead, have been adding pump-out boats with government grants in recent years.

The Peconic Estuary, which extends from the Peconic River in Riverhead to the ends of the twin forks, was declared a no-discharge zone in 2000.

After a 30-day public comment period, the EPA is expected to give final approval to the South Shore Estuary no-discharge designation.

Michael Wright

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