General Assembly seeks federal ‘no-discharge zone’ for bay tributaries

- Posted on Jun 08, 2011 - 04:06 PM

The General Assembly has directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to seek federal designation of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay tributaries as "no-discharge zones" for boats carrying sewage.

According to a press release from DEQ, the designation would prohibit the overboard discharge of sewage, whether treated or untreated, and would include a strong public awareness program about the environmental impact of boat waste.

Virginia already has tidal no-discharge zones in the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, and in Broad Creek, Jackson Creek and Fishing Bay in Middlesex County, said the release, pointing out that the no-discharge zone in Virginia Beach has resulted in the reopening of 1,462 acres of condemned shellfish growing areas in the Lynnhaven River to commercial harvest. Some of them had been closed since the 1930s. 

Current efforts to expand no-discharge zones are focusing on bay tributaries bordering Virginia’s Northern Neck, said the release. DEQ is proposing no-discharge zones for Richmond, Lancaster, Northumberland and Westmoreland counties. The four-county proposal will be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review by July 2011.

For more information see www.deq.virginia.gov/tmdl/ndz.html or contact Liz McKercher, DEQ watershed coordinator, at elizabeth.mckercher@deq.virginia.gov or 804-698-4291.