News 22 Feb, 2012

USA - California Sewage No Discharge Zone

On 9 February 2012 the Final Rule establishing the California No Discharge Zone (NDZ) was signed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Final Rule will enter into force 30 days after being published in the Federal Register. It is expected that the new regulations will become mandatory from mid-March 2012 although an exact date has not yet been advised by the EPA.

The new regulations will prohibit the discharge of treated and untreated sewage in an area along the California coast from the Oregon border to the Mexican border within California marine waters extending seawards a distance of three nautical miles from the baseline as determined by the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, and within all tidal enclosed bays and estuaries. The existing California NDZs covering ten bays and marinas remain in effect. The EPA has published a map showing the areas concerned.

Foreign flag and United States flagged vessels are affected as follows:

  • Large Passenger Vessels of 300 GT of over, which have berths or overnight accommodation for passengers.
  • Large Oceangoing Vessels of 300 GT or over, including military, governmental, commercial and private vessels, which are equipped with a sewage holding tank containing sewage or with sewage holding tank capacity remaining at the time of entry to the regulated waters.

Enforcement of the new regulatory requirements will be conducted by the United States Coast Guard. It is expected that compliance will be verified during routine Port State Control inspections, including visual checks, reviews of sewage logs and evaluations of holding tank limits.

Members with vessels trading to ports in California are advised to ensure that their vessels are aware of the impending introduction of the new regulations and comply with them once they become mandatory.

Further information can be found in a fact sheet published by the EPA. Members may also contact the Loss Prevention department for further guidance.