Ships no longer can discharge treated sewage in California waters

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Ships no longer can discharge any sewage, even treated sewage, along California’s 1,624-mile coastline, under a rule adopted Feb. 9 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The new rule takes effect March 9.

The no-discharge rule extends to three miles from shore and applies to ships larger than 300 tons. The EPA said the action would prohibit an estimated 22 million gallons of treated sewage from entering the water each year.

The EPA’s action approves a state proposal, Senate Bill 771 (also known as the Clean Coast Act), which required California to petition the federal government to enact a no-discharge zone.

Under the Clean Water Act, states may request that the EPA establish no-discharge zones.

In 2006, following passage of three state statutes designed to reduce the effects of vessel discharges to its waters, California asked the EPA to establish the sewage-discharge ban.

After proposing the rule in 2010, the EPA considered some 2,000 comment letters from members of the public, environmental groups and the shipping industry before finalizing the regulation.

"This is an important step to protect California's coastline. I want to commend the shipping industry, environmental groups and U.S. EPA for working with California to craft a common-sense approach to keeping our coastal waters clean," said California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Princess Cruises offers a series of California coastal cruises between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and other cruise lines, including Carnival, operate Mexico cruises from either Los Angeles or San Diego.

For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly.

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