Environment roundup


  • If you look at a detailed nautical chart of Boston Harbor, you will see an area along the waterfront in the North End that is shaded in magenta, to the south of the Coast Guard Station. If you find the reference to this area, it explains that “An Act of Congress, Public Law 90-312, declared the waterfront area shown in magenta to be nonnavigable”. I think that this was done by the Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil, whose district included this area, because a number of people wanted to develop the waterfront, including the construction of high-end condos on piers, but the environmental laws would not allow it.

    I have often wondered whether I can empty the holding tank on my boat if I anchor there for the night…

    • “I have often wondered whether I can empty the holding tank on my boat if I anchor there for the night…”

      You can empty it anywhere you want provided there isn’t a mechanical failure preventing you from opening the drain valve.

      What you should be wondering is “whether I may..l”. This is a permission question not an ability question.

      • Or perhaps it would be reasonable to infer that “…consistent with law…” is an omitted but understood term of rxc’s statement.

  • Sorry if I was being obtuse. This is a boating comment, because according to the EPA’s web site: “Section 312 of the Clean Water Act requires the use of operable, U.S. Coast Guard-certified marine sanitation devices (MSDs) onboard vessels that are equipped with installed toilets and operating on U.S. navigable waters.”

    It is now pretty easy to find a pumpout station, or just go out 3 miles, and you can empty your holding tank (that is what the ships all do), but this particular bit of water has been declared “non-navigable” by the Congress. I think that I could probably anchor right next to the Coast Guard Station, and be in “non-navigable waters”. There are a bunch of various boating regulations that cover “navigable waters” (33CFR 209.200, and one wonders whether they are all void when sitting on your yacht in this magenta area.

    I only bring it up because of the irony of the Congress’ seeming inability to provide a definition of the term “waters of the US”, but it is able to discern EXACTLY the waters that it does NOT want to be considered “navigable”, and probably also NOT “Waters of the US”. And these non-navigable waters are used every day by all sorts of boats and maybe even some ships.

    Politics is such a wonderful thing…

  • BTW, to provide further clarification, I am talking about toilets and marine holding tanks for toilets, on vessels.