NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Boaters, the state of Connecticut wants your sewage. No, seriously, they do.
State environmental officials are aiming to collect more than 1 million gallons of sewage this season from recreational vessels in Long Island Sound.
The amount of sewage, mostly human waste, pumped off boats has been rising since 2011, when the Environmental Protection Agency imposed a ban on dumping sewage anywhere in the sound between New York’s Long Island and the Connecticut shoreline.
The waste from boats is considered a relatively small source of pollution compared to storm-water runoff and releases from treatment plants, but the sewage, even when treated with chlorine, contains chemicals that can pose health risks to swimmers and threaten marine life.
“Boaters tell me they do see a difference, that the water is cleaner,” said Kate Hughes Brown, Connecticut’s Clean Vessels Act coordinator.
Last year pumpout facilities in Connecticut operated by marinas, towns and nonprofit organizations removed 995,000 gallons of sewage from recreational vessels, including a small amount from Candlewood Lake. A few years ago, when officials first started counting, Brown said the total was only a few hundred gallons.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is closing in on a goal of having pumpout facilities at every harbor in the state. Federal grants help to cover the costs of the facilities through taxes on fuel and fishing tackle. A total of 44 marine facilities are receiving more than $1 million in funding to support pumpout operations under the state’s annual Federal Clean Vessel Act program.
Kathleen Burns, executive director of the Essex-based Connecticut Marine Trades Association, said the program’s growth has been dramatic.
“There is no question about the awareness within the boating community,” she said. “Nobody wants to be boating in less than stellar waters.”
Until a few years ago, boaters could dump waste into the sound, as long as it was treated. Boats have been prohibited from dumping sewage on the Connecticut side of the sound since 2007, and a no-discharge designation was secured for New York in 2011.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)