On December 4, 2018, the President signed into law the "Vessel Incidental Discharge Act" (VIDA) (Title IX of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard   Authorization Act of 2018). VIDA restructures the way the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulate incidental discharges, primarily from commercial vessels, into waters of the United States and the contiguous zone. Specifically, VIDA amends   Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 312 to include a new subsection (p) titled, “Uniform National Standards for Discharges Incidental to Normal   Operation of Vessels.”

 Subsection 312(p) requires the EPA to develop new national standards of performance for   commercial vessel discharges and the USCG to develop corresponding implementing   regulations. For more information on VIDA and its applicability click here.


 The following interim requirements apply until EPA publishes future standards and the USCG publishes corresponding implementing regulations (anticipated in 2022):

  • For large, non-fishing commercial vessels: The existing vessel discharge requirements established through the EPA 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) and the USCG ballast  water regulations, and any applicable state and local government requirements.
  • For small vessels and fishing vessels of any size: The existing ballast water discharge requirements established through the EPA 2013 VGP and the USCG ballast water regulations, and any applicable state and local government requirements.  

 For more information on the interim requirements, click on the links below:

 For more information on the regulatory process and future requirements of VIDA, click on the links below:

For information on the regulation and control of vessel sewage under CWA Section 312, visit EPA's Vessel Sewage Discharges page.


Opportunities for Public Involvement

Initial public outreach to provide a general overview of VIDA, discuss interim and future discharge requirements, describe future state and public engagement opportunities, and answer select clarifying questions raised by the audience.

Viability Policy Letter

The Coast Guard received a statutory directive to issue a final policy letter, pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 1322(p)(6)(D)(iv), which describes type-approval testing methods, if any, for ballast water management systems (BWMS) that render organisms nonviable in ballast water and may be used in addition to the methods established in title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 162.060.

Accepted Type Approval Testing Methods & Protocols

Accepted BWMS type-approval testing methods and protocols for systems that render organisms nonviable. These methods and protocols may be used in addition to may be used in addition to the methods established under subpart 162.060 of title 46, Code of Federal Regulations (or successor regulations) to measure the concentration of organisms in ballast water that are capable of reproduction; to certify the performance of each BWMS system under this subsection; and to certify laboratories to evaluate applicable treatment technologies. Additional methods and protocols will be posted as they are accepted.

Federal Register Postings

Coast Guard Federal Register docket. The Final Viability Policy Letter is located in docket “USCG-2019-0477”.