Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: Vessel Water Discharge

Sewage and Graywater Standards Development

shipalaska3b

HIGHLIGHTS

Cruise Ship Wastewater Discharges Fact Sheet ( HTML | PDF, 2 pages, 288 KB, About PDF)

EPA’s 2004 Alaska cruise ship sampling results are now available.

For more information you can view our Generic Sampling and Analysis Plan (PDF, 65 pg., 556KB).

EPA’s "Survey Questionnaire to Determine the Effectiveness, Costs, and Impacts of Sewage and Graywater Treatment Devices for Large Cruise Ships Operating in Alaska"(PDF, 192 pg., 681KB) and supporting documents can be found at www.regulations.gov under EPA’s Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2003-0081.

For additional information, please send an email request to cruise.ships@epa.gov.

About PDF files

EPA is assessing the need for additional standards for sewage and graywater discharges from large cruise ships operating in Alaska. With ever larger cruise ships and the increasing popularity of cruises, it is essential that we know whether current standards are adequately protecting human health and the environment.

Why is EPA considering wastewater standards for cruise ships in Alaska?

  • In the 1990s, there was considerable concern about cruise ships discharging untreated sewage and graywater into areas that were surrounded by Alaskan waters but were beyond three miles from shore (where such discharges are not regulated).

  • On December 12, 2000, Congress passed HR 4577, "Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001," which contained Title XIV, a section called "Certain Alaskan Cruise Ship Operations" (33 U.S.C. 1901 Note).

  • Title XIV set discharge standards for sewage and graywater from large cruise ships (those authorized to carry 500 or more passengers for hire) while operating in the Alexander Archipelago and the navigable waters of the United States in the State of Alaska and within the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

  • This law authorizes EPA to develop additional standards for these discharges in Alaska.

What information is EPA collecting?

  • EPA sampled wastewater from four cruise ships that operated in Alaska during the summer of 2004. The purpose of this sampling was to characterize graywater and sewage generated onboard and to evaluate the performance of various advanced sewage and graywater treatment systems.

  • EPA also distributed a "Survey Questionnaire to Determine the Effectiveness, Costs, and Impacts of Sewage and Graywater Treatment Devices for Large Cruise Ships Operating in Alaska "(PDF, 192 pg., 681KB) to all cruise ships authorized to carry 500 or more passengers for hire that operated to Alaska in 2004.

    • The information being collected by the survey includes general vessel information; sources of graywater and sewage; ship-board plumbing systems; data on the effectiveness of sewage and graywater treatment systems in removing pollutants; and costs of these systems.


    • The final version of the Survey (approved by the Office of Management and Budget), associated Federal Register notices, supporting documents, and comments received can be found at www.regulations.gov under EPA’s Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2003-0081.


  • EPA will use the responses to the survey questionnaire along with the sampling results and other relevant information to perform environmental, economic, and engineering analyses to determine the necessity for, scope, and substance of any additional standards.

Title XIV standards (summary):

  • Prohibits discharge of sewage and graywater from cruise ships into Alaskan waters unless the ship is underway at a minimum of 6 knots, and more than one nautical mile from shore, or the geometric mean of samples taken during a 30 day period is less than 20 fecal coliforms/100ml and not more than 10% of the samples exceed 40 fecal coliforms/100ml, total chlorine residual does not exceed10.0 µg/l, and the discharge complies with secondary treatment standards (see 40 CFR 133.102 for secondary treatment standards);

  • Requires that all sewage discharges into Alaskan waters contain no more than 200 fecal coliforms/100ml, and 150 mg/l of total suspended solids;

  • Authorizes EPA to develop regulations for the discharge of sewage and graywater from cruise ships into the waters covered by Title XIV;

  • Authorizes Alaska to petition EPA to establish no-discharge zones for sewage and graywater from cruise ships;

  • Requires the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to expand its current vessel inspection regime to include all discharge control equipment on covered cruise ships and requires sampling and testing of sewage and graywater discharges from covered cruise ships in Alaskan waters;

  • Authorizes the USCG to conduct unannounced inspections and to require logbooks of all sewage and graywater discharges; and

  • Provides EPA and the USCG with the authority to gather information to verify compliance and enforce this title.

In July 2001, Alaska enacted a law concerning cruise ship and ferry waste streams that developed out of Alaskans concern about wastewater and air pollution. This law established the Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance (CPVEC) Program (a.k.a. "Cruise Ship Program") within the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC). For further information, see the State of Alaska Cruise Ship Web Site. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Cruise Ship Discharges home

 


a-zindex2

Jump to main content.