Evaluating Establishment of a No Discharge Zone in Puget Sound
The Washington State Department of Ecology is spearheading an effort to reduce pathogens and nutrients in Puget Sound. One part of that effort was to evaluate the potential of creating a No Discharge Zone (NDZ), which would make it illegal to discharge sewage from any boat in the Sound. Herrera provided the supporting framework for Ecology’s decision by researching federal requirements, conducting extensive interviews with other NDZ programs, and preparing a “condition assessment” for the Sound that summarizes water quality issues and assets that are jeopardized by sewage discharges. We estimated recreational and commercial vessel use and evaluated the adequacy of existing facilities for handling boat waste and the costs. Working with a stakeholder group, we developed an implementation strategy to support Ecology’s petition for NDZ status. In the final phase of the project, we assessed the financial impacts of an NDZ on key user groups. Ultimately, Ecology’s petition was successful, and Puget Sound was designated as an NDZ.