Added Protection for Sensitive Waters
No Discharge Zones are established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, upon petition by a state.
Learn more about the designation process here.
Maryland has taken an extra step towards protecting sensitive waterways by working with the Environmental Protection Agency to designate No Discharge Zones (NDZs) in several areas noted below. 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 three-miles of the U.S. Coast, as well as sewage treated by Type I or II marine sanitation devices (MSD). An NDZ does not restrict the discharge of gray water. Maryland chose to seek NDZ designation for these waters for several reasons:
- high concentration of boats
- resources sensitive to boat sewage
- water contact activities
- local support for added protection
No Discharge Zones in Maryland
NDZ Guide for Boaters
Waters within Anne Arundel County and Annapolis
Northern Coastal Bays, including the tidal waters of Ocean City Inlet, Sinepuxent Bay, Isle of Wight Bay, Assawoman Bay, and their tributaries.
Chester River and its Tributaries
The precise locations are detailed in the
Code of Maryland Regulations.
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.
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. By state regulation, MDE’s Compliance Program has primary responsibility for enforcement of NDZ regulations. DNR Natural Resources Police will assist MDE in investigating violation reports and will issue citations when necessary. Both agencies have agreed that a warning will be issued for first violations, with citations issued for subsequent offenses.
MDE has a number of enforcement provisions including criminal, civil, and administrative actions. Civil penalties are up to $10,000 per violation per day for water pollution. It is anticipated that most of their enforcement actions will come from violations reported by a number of sources, including the Natural Resources Police, local health agencies, marina owners, and boaters.
Report NDZ Violations:
Maryland Department of the Environment
866-MDE-GOTO (evenings and weekends)
Report Inoperable Pumpouts:
Maryland Department of Natural Resources