Agency Begins Annual N.Y., N.J. Beach Monitoring

With the beginning of the beach season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is again undertaking a beach and harbor protection program, comprising surveillance, sampling, and funding activities to safeguard beaches and bays in New Jersey and New York, and the health of the people who enjoy them.

Using its helicopter, ships. and cutting-edge technologies, EPA’s initiatives and scientific assessments will go farther in 2009 than ever before.

“Thanks to EPA’s beach and harbor protection programs, New Jersey and New York beaches will continue to provide outstanding recreational opportunities for millions of people this summer and an economic boost to local communities,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “The health of these vital areas will be constantly monitored throughout the summer.”

Working with other federal, state, and local agencies, EPA’s program operates seven days a week. The results from the agency’s prior assessment of a new rapid method of testing beach water for bacteria that cause gastrointestinal illness show promise as a beach monitoring tool. Conventional methods require 24 hours for results, while the new method can provide results in as little as three hours after sample collection. EPA will continue its assessment of this rapid test technology this summer to further refine this new method and evaluate results under various environmental conditions.

EPA’s comprehensive, science-based beach and coastal water program has many components, including shellfish bed water quality monitoring, grants to states to help with their beach monitoring and public notification programs, and the development of pollution discharge limits, called total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), for the New York/New Jersey Harbor and the New York Bight.

This summer, EPA will use its boats as well as the Ocean Survey Vessel BOLD to collect water samples and further assess the influence of nutrients on dissolved oxygen levels. As it does every summer, EPA scientists will fly over the New York/New Jersey Harbor in EPA’s helicopter, the Coastal Crusader, searching for floating debris, and it will again collect water samples near shellfish beds and along the New Jersey coast for dissolved oxygen.

For more information on EPA’s diverse coastal water activities, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/oceans.

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