Establish a State-Designated
No Discharge Zone

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State-Designated No Discharge Zone for the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel
County, Maryland

Select this link to download, view and print the No-Discharge Zone Application


Nutrient over-enrichment is the biggest threat to the health of the Chesapeake Bay

“No Discharge Zones in Maryland’s Waters,” a 2014 white paper by Donald O’Neill and Donna Morrow at Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is an authoritative survey of this subject.

Type I MSDs [marine sanitation devices] do little to reduce the amounts of nutrients contained in boat sewage. For this reason, discharges from Type I MSDs can be a problem in sensitive areas of water that are already impacted by other sources of nutrients including poorly flushing areas and areas where vessels tend to congregate.” (p. 9)

Boat sewage, whether treated or not, contains nutrients. Untreated, or improperly treated, boat sewage also contains disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens), such as bacteria, protozoans, and viruses which can cause illness to swimmers and can contaminate shellfish beds also causing illness. Treated boat sewage may also contain toxic chemicals that can harm marine life.” (p. 10)

Figure 1.
Lower Western Shore
Nitrogen Scores


“Nutrients contained in boat sewage can have a more significant impact on local water quality particularly in areas of water that do not flush well and where boats tend to congregate. Although one discharge from one boat may not add a significant amount of nutrients to the water, the effects of nutrient over-enrichment are cumulative so areas of vessel congregation can be a concern. This is a particular problem in environmentally sensitive areas of water that contain living resources and that may not flush well.” (p. 11)

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has developed a sophisticated report card for the health of the Chesapeake Bay, dividing the water body into 12 regions. The “Lower Western Shore” region covers Anne Arundel County and a portion of Calvert County, an area that is nearly identical to the area covered in the application and Herring Bay. The 2017 map of nitrogen levels, reproduced below, shows the Lower Western Shore to be “very poor” and meeting less than 20% of the nitrogen pollution diet’s target (Figure 1).


Application for a State-Designated No Discharge Zone in the City of Annapolis
and Anne Arundel County, Maryland under the Clean Water Act 312(f)(3)

This is the first No-Discharge Zone Application in Maryland that is promoted by government agencies,
the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

This current request is the first no discharge zone application in Maryland to be promoted by government entities: the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Annapolis is the County seat as well as the state capital. The strategy of the application has been to identify all of the water bodies in the County that fulfill the requirements of adequate pump-out and dump station facilities and to limit the no discharge zones to the “interior” waters of the County and not to extend the proposed no discharge zone boundaries into the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay. These limits arise from two considerations. First, the aim of this no discharge zone application is to focus on the rivers, creeks, and coves where recreational boating is most concentrated and where, it is expected, successful no discharge zones will have the most observable effects. And second, the proposed limits correspond to the areas served by existing environmental nonprofit organizations that are currently active in water and habitat quality monitoring, education, and enforcement.

Map of No Discharge Zones and Existing Pumpout Facilities

How is all this possible?

The Back Creek Conservancy prepared both two previous drafts of this application in response to resolutions calling for no discharge zones by the Annapolis Environmental Commission (November 2014), the Anne Arundel Maritime Industry Advisory Board (December 2016), and the Severn River Commission (January 2017). All three are volunteer citizens advisory bodies with no direct implementation authority.

To initiate the application, the Back Creek Conservancy engaged Tyler Domanski, a 2016 summer intern, to prepare a feasibility study for a no discharge zone application. Based on his report, the Conservancy organized a consultative roundtable at Port Annapolis Marina on 15 December 2016, chaired by Steuart and Hamilton Chaney, which confirmed the feasibility of a no discharge zone application. A follow-up roundtable in July set the format based on EPA guidance and the basic approach as a positive strategy to promote clean boating, with less emphasis on enforcing a new environmental regulation. A final consultative roundtable in November began the drafting of the application.

The Conservancy’s 2017 fundraising launched major corporate sponsorship by the Brick Companies Foundation, Herrington Harbour Marinas, and the Eastport Yacht Center. A second round of fundraising, led by William J. Kardash and Charles R. Kreter, fulfilled the initial financial goal.
Research and drafting of the application took place from November 2017 to February 2018, led by David Read Barker along with Lara Mulvaney, GIS Specialist, and Grace B. Stewart, Program Assistant.

In response to concerns among maritime businesses about the economic impact of no discharge zones, the Back Creek Conservancy brought the harbormasters of Newport, RI (Timothy Mills) and Chatham, MA (Stuart Smith) to Annapolis on 7 February 2018. At a public meeting for maritime businesses, hosted by Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and facilitated by Chesapeake Legal Alliance Executive Director Jacqueline Guild, the harbormasters described their positive experiences.

The first draft of this application was circulated for comment on 23 February 2018 with written and oral comments received from several interested parties.

Based on the comments, a revised draft application dated 28 June 2018 was circulated to Anne Arundel County, and the City of Annapolis, resulting in resolution 31-18 by the County Council in support of the application and resolution 47-18 by the City Council expressing the same support.


At the end of 2018, the Back Creek Conservancy consolidated with the Severn River Association, which now includes the establishment of this No Discharge Zone in its mission and carries on the role of applicant for its designation.


Program Goal

Establish a state-wide no discharge zone for the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

Program Outcomes

  • Protect our waterways from sewage dumping and boat pollution
  • Attain Nutrient Reduction Credits
  • Provide maps of santitary waste reception facilities
  • Create awareness and advocate to establish a state-wide no discharge zone