All Massachusetts waters are a “no discharge zone” (NDZ). Massachusetts law states that it is unlawful to discharge sewage, whether treated or not, or other refuse from your vessel into Massachusetts waters. If you have a recreational vessel with installed toilet facilities, it must have on board an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) that is self-contained and incapable of discharging directly into the water.
There are three types of MSDs.
- Types I and II MSDs are usually found on large vessels. Waste is treated with special chemicals to kill bacteria before the waste is discharged. Types I and II MSDs with Y valves that would direct the waste overboard must be secured so that the valve cannot be opened. This can be done by placing a lock or non-reusable seal on the Y valve or by taking the handle off the Y valve.
- Type III MSDs provide no treatment and are either holding tanks or portable toilets. Collected waste should be taken ashore and disposed of in a pump-out station or onshore toilet.
Vessels 65 feet or less in length may use a Type I, II, or III MSD. Vessels more than 65 feet in length must install a Type II or III MSD.
All installed devices must be USCG–certified.
Boaters can help reduce water pollution by pumping out their sewage. Pump-out stations provide wet vacuums that draw sewage out of a boat’s holding tanks for proper disposal.
- All of Massachusetts waters are designated as “no discharge” for vessel sewage, so pump-out stations allow boaters to comply with the federal and state laws, which prohibit the discharge of sewage, whether treated or not, in Massachusetts coastal waters.
- With the assistance of federal and state funding, the number of pump-out stations (and pump-out boats) has increased significantly. Boaters have responded by using them, which already has improved coastal water quality.
- Use the pump-out stations to keep sewage out of our fishing and swimming areas.
For more information, visit Mass.gov or call 617-626-1200.