The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has designated the Chester River as a No Discharge Zone (NDZ) in Maryland’s Chesapeake watershed.
This means that the discharge of all boat sewage is prohibited, including raw sewage as well as sewage treated by Type I or II marine sanitation devices. The designation comes as the result of a multi-year effort by ShoreRivers, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring Eastern Shore waterways, and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed and approved the No Discharge Zone, which is enforceable by state law enforcement as well as the U.S. Coast Guard.
Inside the boundaries of the Chester River NDZ, all boats with marine heads must pump waste at a discharge station. Violators can face fines up to $1000. Eight pumpout stations can be found at marinas located on the Chester and its tributaries. Click to shorerivers.org/programs/no-discharge-zone to find detailed information on the pumpout services on the Chester River.
In most waterways of the Chesapeake treated waste may be discharged legally outside of no discharge zones. However, river-friendly boaters on any waterway can help eliminate marine waste by always using pumpout services. This is considered a “river-friendly” option because even treated waste (which does not contain bacteria pollutants) is a nutrient pollutant, which can negatively affect Bay grasses, blue crabs, oysters, and fish.
Boaters en route to or from the Chester, may take advantage of the free ShoreRivers pumpout boat offered on the Miles and Wye Rivers from mid-May to mid-October. Contact Captain Freeman on VHF Channel 9. The ShoreRivers pumpout boat has kept nearly 78,000 gallons of waste out of the waterways since its debut in 2016.
The Chester River is the third No Discharge Zone in Maryland waters, following Herring Bay and the Northern Coastal Bays. A fourth in Anne Arundel County is expected to become effective later in 2021.
For more on the Chester, check out Katie and Gene Hamilton's Cruising the Chester River.