It is now illegal to discharge treated or untreated sewage into the Puget Sound for all commercial vessels. Chapter 173-228 WAC
was adopted on April 9, 2018. The rule is effective as of May 10, 2018.
There are a few exceptions and exemptions explained below or in our focus sheet
The Puget Sound is a unique and sensitive environment that is prone to poor water quality conditions. A No Discharge Zone (NDZ) addresses this source of preventable pollution from impacting our shellfish beds, beaches, and water quality.
What is the boundary of the NDZ?
All the marine waters of Washington state inward from the line between New Dungeness Lighthouse (N 48°10'54.454", 123°06'37.004" W) and the Discovery Island Lighthouse (N 48°25'26.456", 123°13'29.554" W) to the Canadian border (intersecting at: N 48°20'05.782", 123°11'58.636" W), and fresh waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters between and to Puget Sound.
How to manage vessel sewage in the NDZ
All Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs) installed on all vessels shall be designed and operated to either retain, dispose of, or discharge sewage, shall be certified by the US Coast Guard, and follow requirements of 40 C.F.R part 140.
Type III holding tanks
Use stationary pumpouts, mobile pumpouts, pumping services (barges, trucks), or discharge outside the NDZ following requirements. We have provided this list of potential commercial vessel sewage pumpout
options as a resource for commercial vessel operators.
Type I or Type II devices
Vessels with these MSDs must secure the devices to prohibit the discharge of sewage per 33 CFR 159.7(b) while in the NDZ.
The vessel operator must secure each device in a manner which prevents discharge of treated or untreated sewage. Acceptable methods of securing the device include:
- Closing the seacock and removing the handle.
- Padlocking the seacock in the closed position.
- Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position.
- Locking the door to the space enclosing the toilets with a padlock or door handle key lock.
Without installed toilets
Vessels without installed toilets must dispose of any collected sewage from portable toilets or other containment devices at facilities in a manner that complies with state law (ashore in proper facility).
Our approach is first focused on outreach and education. We are working with partners in an NDZ Enforcement Committee and NDZ Outreach and Education Committee on enforcement provisions and outreach and education.
However, it's the law. Your MSD may be inspected and you could be fined (Chapter 90.48 RCW, Chapter 173-228 WAC). Ecology and the United States Coast Guard may enforce this rule by using the enforcement provisions in Chapter 90.48 RCW or other federal provisions. In addition, other federal, state, and local agencies may provide enforcement, as authorized.