On August 25, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the nation’s largest coastal “No Discharge Zone,” covering California’s entire 1,624 miles of coastline. Pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act, states may request EPA to establish vessel no-discharge zones to protect and restore water quality. Non-sewage discharge from vessels is regulated under state law. Acting pursuant to California’s Clean Coast Act of 2005, the State Water Resources Control Board requested EPA to adopt the protective zone.
The proposed rule prohibits all discharge of treated and untreated sewage within three miles of the coastline from cruise ships larger than 300 tons, and all other vessels larger than 300 tons that have two days of sewage holding tank capacity. EPA estimates the ban will stop 20 million gallons of sewage from entering California’s coastal waters. The proposed No Discharge Zone will be by far the largest such zone established pursuant to the Clean Water Act.