Twenty million fewer gallons of sewage will taint the 1,624 mile California coastline starting next year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that it will ban all large cruise ships and other commercial vessels from discharging sewage within three miles of the state's coast.
In doing so, the EPA established the largest coastal "No Discharge Zone" in the United States.
"Cruise lines and the shipping industry can no longer use California's valuable coastal and bay waters as their toilet," said Marcie Keever, Oceans & Vessels Campaign director at Friends of the Earth.
Under the decades-old but presently relevent Clean Water Act, individual states may deem a federally regulated "No Discharge Zone" neccessary to protect coastal waters.
The EPA describes the actions as "unprecedented in geographical scope."
Under current laws, there are nine small no discharge zones located at various points along the coast, primarily designated to protect national marine sanctuaries. Dana Point Harbor, Avalon Bay Harbor, Newport Bay and Huntington Harbor are all protected under the legislation.
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However, these designations were mostly made over three decades ago, primarily in the late 1970s.
With this new course of action, an "NDZ" ("No Discharge Zone") is effectively created for all coastal waters out to three miles, resulting in 5,222 square miles of heightened environmental protection.