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Grants help local agencies monitor beach water quality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing almost $10 million in grants to 37 states, territories and tribes to help protect swimmers and beachgoers at America’s beaches. The grants will help local authorities monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming. The grants have enabled states and territories to more than double the number of beaches they monitor since 2003. This continues EPA’s efforts to help beach managers provide consistent public health protection and up-to-date information about local beach conditions.
“EPA’s grants are helping states monitor their beaches and providing beachgoers with information to make healthy decisions,” said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “Increased public information about beach water quality also serves as a motivator for people to identify sources of contamination and to take action.”
Each swimming season, state and local health and environmental protection agencies monitor the quality of water at the nation’s beaches. When bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach. In 2007, an estimated 96 million people made at least one visit to a U.S. ocean beach, spending a total of 1.4 billion days at ocean beaches.
This is the 11th year that EPA is providing beach grant funds, bringing the total amount EPA has made available to nearly $102 million since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000. Through this funding, the number of monitored beaches has almost quadrupled, from about 1,000 in 1997 to more than 3,800 in 2009.