The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will provide close to $10 million in grants to help monitor beach water quality. The funds will be available to 37 eligible coastal and Great Lakes states, territories and tribes to monitor beach water quality and alert the public to unsafe swimming conditions. The grant program is part of the BEACH Act of 2000, and has enabled states and territories to more than double the number of beaches that are monitored.
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Program focuses on improving public health and environmental protection for beach goers and providing beach water quality information to the general public.
This year’s grants are part of the more than $90 million in grants that the EPA has put toward beach water quality monitoring since 2001. The beach grants have also enabled states and territories to more than double the number of beaches at which they monitor water quality since 2003.
“This funding will help states monitor their beaches and provide beachgoers with critical water quality information. Protecting the beach-going public from illness is a national priority and EPA will continue to invest in this type of initiative.” – Peter Silva, EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator
Beach water quality is an issue that affects close to 100 million people every year, as the EPA estimates that 1/3 of the population visiting coastal areas annually. The EPA reports that in the mid-1990’s, over 2,500 U.S. beaches were closed or posted with warnings for at least one day due to water contamination. Between 2003 and 2008, approximately 5% of beach days were affected by advisories or closings nationwide.
In an effort to monitor and notify Americans about the quality of the water on their beaches, the EPA began implementing the Clean Beaches strategy in 2004, including the Clean Beaches Plan. The two main goals of the Clean Beaches Plan are:
1. Promote recreational water quality programs nationwide.
2. Create scientific improvements that support timely recreational water monitoring and reporting.
The new EPA money will enable expanded and more consistent monitoring and reporting on beach water quality as the EPA continues to test and create new technologies for even more refined monitoring.