Puget Sound officially becomes ‘No Discharge Zone’

After years of deliberation, public comments, and back-and-forth opinions on the topic, Puget Sound has officially been designated as a No Discharge Zone.

Citing the protection of shellfish, public health and water quality, Washington State Department of Ecology Director, Maia Bellon, signed into law the Puget Sound No Discharge Zone on Monday, April 9.

After a five year public process and EPA approval, Chapter 173-228 WAC  is set to take effect as of May 10. Although some commercial vessels have a five year delay before the rule becomes active. There is no change for graywater discharges.

What this means for boaters is that, while in the established zone in Puget Sound and certain adjoining waters, boats may not release sewage, whether treated or not. See below map:

Recreational boating resources:

Most recreational boats already have holding tanks and boaters are now not allowed to discharge sewage, treated or untreated into Puget Sound. If your boat has a toilet on board, you are required to have a marine sanitation device (MSD).

If you have a treatment MSD (Type I or Type II), you will need to secure it in a manner which prevents discharge of treated or untreated sewage. See the Coast Guard regulations for more details. Acceptable methods of securing the device include:

Closing the seacock and removing the handle;

Padlocking the seacock in the closed position;

Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position; or

Locking the door to the space enclosing the toilets with a padlock or door handle key lock.

An alternative to securing your device is replacing your Type I or Type II MSD with a Type III holding tank.

If you have a toilet with a holding tank (Type III MSD) you can use the variety of pumpout facilities to pumpout your sewage (see links below).

You can use stationary pumpouts, mobile pumpouts boats, pumping services (trucks, barges), or discharge outside the NDZ following state requirements.

Find a pumpout in Washington state or visit the State Parks pumpout website.

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5 Responses to Puget Sound officially becomes ‘No Discharge Zone’

  1. Sailboat Scotty April 12, 2018 at 8:35 am #

    Agree with David B. The source of pollution is old combined (shore based) sewer systems and maintenance issues. No voter wants to pay higher taxes to replace them, so this “window dressing” gives some the appearance of doing something, when it actually will have no affect. Boaters have not been allowed to discharge black water since the Clean Water Act of 1971, and all this really does is penalize the few boaters who went to the expense of installing a treatment system that is most often better maintained than shore waste disposal systems. I want to be green, too. I just don’t like boaters being maligned as polluters as most of us have much more skin the game as we are on the water. I remember when they did this in locations back East a few years ago and the EPA was quoted as saying (not exact words) ‘thank goodness no boater will be able to pollute any longer due to our no discharge zone,’ and then a month later some pipe breaks and dumps million of gallons of raw sewage. Very disappointing.

  2. Shawn Munger April 11, 2018 at 8:01 pm #

    Why so Negitive about adding a NDZ?
    Seems like ANYTHING that can be done at anytime, is a good choice.
    Water quality, amongst many things is killing fish runs, ORCAS, and ruining our fragile enviroment.
    Voice your displeasure with the City and County, State environment agencys, SPEAK OUT!!!

  3. SEAN April 11, 2018 at 7:43 pm #


  4. David B. April 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    It is always amazing how the boaters are always the blame as the source of the pollution in the sound. How many millions of gallons of raw sewage did the City of Seattle dump into the sound last year? When is that going to stop? We hear all the excuses from the city. The system was overwhelmed by a huge rainstorm. A pipe broke. It seems they have an answer for it all.

  5. Aurelius April 11, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    Eliminate the Washington State Department of Ecology!! Another very expensive, bureaucratic boondoggle!!

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