Sanitary Survey to Help Keep Beaches Open

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Tool is designed help beach managers identify sources of bacterial contamination. It was developed and piloted at beaches around the Great Lakes but can be effective at any beach.

"This new national clean water tool will help beach managers be pollution detectives upstream to prevent beach closures downstream," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.

The tool was developed as a result of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration's efforts to identify sources of contamination at Great Lakes beaches. EPA provided a grant of $525,000 to test the effectiveness of the tool at 61 beaches around the Great Lakes -- including North Beach in Racine -- during the summer of 2007.

A beach sanitary survey is an evaluation of the beach area and surrounding watershed for existing and potential sources of pollution. Information collected may include the number of birds at a beach, slope of the beach, location and condition of bathrooms, amount of algae present, location of stormwater outfalls, and soundness of residential septic tanks.

EPA announced on May 30 a $222,240 grant to Wisconsin to monitor its Great Lakes beaches and provide information to the public. When bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels, beaches are closed or advisories are issued. The grant is part of $9.5 million awarded to 35 coastal states, tribes, and territories nationwide in 2008. This is the eighth year grants are being made available since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act in October 2000.

For more information on the Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Tool, visit

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