EPA Commits $10 Million to Protect the Nation's Beaches

Thirty states and five territories will share $10 million in grants for beach water-quality monitoring and public notification programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today. 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.

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 EPA funding.

"The Bush Administration is committed to keeping America's beaches and Great Lakes shores clean and healthy," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "By improving water quality and informing beachgoers, EPA is helping States and communities protect public health and coastal ecosystems and economies."

EPA is also 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.

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

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