EPA moves to ban boat sewage in Lake Erie

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Gross as it is, boaters have been able to pump out their sewage into Lake Erie, but this may soon come to an end.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a statement today “tentatively” determining that there are plenty of pump-out stations around Lake Erie that allow for boats to remove the sewage in a more environmentally friendly way.  The federal agency wants to ban boats from pumping out the sewage into the lake based on a proposal from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“This proposal will help protect water quality and marine life in Lake Erie for years to come,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck in a prepared statement. “Creating a no discharge zone for the New York portions of Lake Erie is an important step in protecting this amazing water body.”

According to the EPA, the sewage from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals that pose risks to humans, water quality and marine life. The proposed ban would cover the entire New York portion of the lake, the Upper Niagara River and other tributaries including Buffalo Outer Harbor.

The EPA is accepting public comments until Jan. 6, 2013.

E-mail, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov, Fax: (212) 637-3891. Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

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