EPA Provides $10 Million In Grants For Nation's Beaches

EPA announced on Jan. 9 that it is making almost $10 million in grants available in 2007 to eligible states to protect public health at the nation's beaches.

Officials said the grant amount is based on the length of the beach season, miles of beaches and number of beachgoers. All 35 coastal and Great Lakes states and territories maintain monitoring programs using the agency's funding.

Beach water-quality monitoring helps local authorities identify what steps to take to reduce pollution and can lead to advisories or closures when bacteria concentrations reach unhealthy levels.

"By improving water quality and informing beachgoers, EPA is helping states and communities protect public health and coastal ecosystems and economies," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.

EPA also is focusing efforts on developing new technologies to rapidly analyze beaches for bacteria contamination. Studies involving state-of-the-art detection methods, coupled with population and illness surveys, are under way at various beaches to evaluate the new analytical approaches.

During the past seven years, EPA has provided nearly $62 million under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000. Before the BEACH Act passed, state and local monitoring and notification programs often differed across the country and provided varying levels of swimmer protection. EPA estimates that Americans make 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion.

More information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/grants.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.