Beaches in Good Shape for Vacationers

Beaches up and down the Atlantic coast are safe to swim in this Memorial Day holiday, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Thousands of families look forward to vacationing at our mid-Atlantic coastal beaches, and knowing ahead of time that the waters are healthy is a relief," said Donald S. Welsh, EPA's mid-Atlantic Regional administrator in a May 22 press release. "EPA is committed to keeping the nation's beaches clean and healthy. EPA estimates that Americans make 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion.

Indicators show that the mid-Atlantic coastal waters are in good condition. EPA is making $9.75 million nationally in grants available this year under the BEACH (Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health) Act of 2000 to continue improvements to coastal beach water sampling and informing the public when problems occur. Of that amount, mid-Atlantic programs will receive:

• Delaware: $207,730;

• Maryland: $266,900;

• Erie County, Pa.: $219,650; and

• Virginia: $274,650.

The amounts are based on a number of factors, including the length of beach season, miles of beaches, and the number of people using the beaches. BEACH grant funds have helped improve and expand beach monitoring programs, including looking for sources of contaminants when indicator levels rise so that those sources can be addressed.