Online Services

Chesapeake Bay Hotline

Call 1-877-224-7229
to report any of the following

  • Boating accident or reckless activity
  • Fish kill or algal bloom
  • Floating debris that poses a hazard
  • Illegal fishing activity
  • Public sewer leak or overflow
  • Oil or hazardous material spill
  • Critical area or wetlands violation
  • Suspicious or unusual activity

Maryland's No Discharge Zones

Added Protection for Sensitive Waters


Maryland has taken an extra step towards protecting sensitive waterways by working with the Environmental Protection Agency to designate No Discharge Zones (NDZs) in two areas: Herring Bay and the Northern Coastal Bays. A No Discharge Zone is an area of water where the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited. This includes raw sewage, which is prohibited anywhere within the three-mile limit, as well as sewage treated by an approved marine sanitation device (MSD). An NDZ does not restrict the discharge of gray water.

Herring Bay and the Northern Coastal Bays were chosen as Maryland’s first NDZs for several reasons:

  • high concentration of boats
  • resources sensitive to boat sewage
  • water contact activities
  • local support for added protection

The precise locations are detailed in the Code of Maryland Regulations.


Chester River No Discharge Zone Application

In 2016, in cooperation with the Chester River Association, Maryland petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to declare the Chester River and its tributaries as a No Discharge Zone. The EPA has officially received this petition as published in the Federal Register March 28, 2017.

Public comments must be received at EPA in writing by April 27, 2017.  Refer to the Federal Register for instructions.

Chester River No Discharge Zone Application.

Pumpouts: A Pollution Solution

Proper handling of boat sewage is an important part of restoring Maryland waterways. Adequate facilities are required to help boaters act responsibly. Maryland has one of the country’s most successful pumpout programs. Over 300 marinas are equipped with one or more units designed to handle waste from holding tanks and portable toilets. Copies of Maryland’s Pumpout Guide are available at area marinas or from the Department of Natural Resources.

Complying with NDZ Regulations

When navigating within an NDZ:
  • Secure Type I and Type II MSDs (treat and release systems). Acceptable methods to secure these systems include locking the door to the head or disabling the seacock.
  • Use the available pumpout facilities located at nearby marinas to empty Type III systems (holding tanks) and portable toilets.
  • Report NDZ violations and inoperable pumpouts to state authorities.

NDZ Enforcement

Cooperation by boaters is the key to successful implementation of No Discharge Zones. Please respect restrictions in these areas and encourage other boaters to do so. Violators will be subject to fines up to $1,000.

Report NDZ Violations:

Maryland Department of the Environment
410-537-3510 (weekdays)
866-MDE-GOTO (evenings and weekends)

Report Inoperable Pumpouts:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
410-260-8772 (weekdays)