Sailors Take Note of New No-Discharge Zone in Anne Arundel County

New No-Discharge Zone in Anne Arundel County To Affect Sailors and Other Boaters as of July 1

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 on the Chesapeake Bay, announce that a federally approved No Discharge Zone (NDZ) designation for 13 bodies of water in Anne Arundel County, including Annapolis Harbor, took effect July 1.

Sailors know Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse well. It stands a mile offshore from the South River, which is part of the new No-Discharge Zone in Anne Arundel County on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Dave Gendell

“The No Discharge Zone is an important protection for some of our most important waterways,” Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said.

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​.

“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 onboard 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.”

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 percent 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 head is disabled.

Find more about pumpouts and NDZs in Maryland on 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, email pumpouts.[email protected] or call (410) 260-8772.

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