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EPA Provides $201,450 for Environmental Monitoring of New Hampshire Shoreline Beaches

Release Date: 08/13/2008
Contact Information: Dave Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston - 08/13/08) - With the summer beach season in high gear, EPA’s New England office is awarding a $201,450 grant to help support the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) Public Beach Inspection Program. The grant funds will be used to continue efforts to monitor water quality at New Hampshire coastal beaches to ensure that people enjoying the beach are also enjoying healthy water conditions.

The EPA funding is made available through the federal Beach Act of 2000, which requires coastal states to monitor beaches and notify the public about water quality. Since 2001, New Hampshire has been awarded $1,286,054 towards improving water quality monitoring and reporting at shoreline beaches. With this year’s funds, the amount awarded in the region will surpass $8 million.

The EPA funding has allowed the NH DES to increase the number of coastal beaches that are regularly monitored from nine to 16, and to improve the reporting of beach monitoring results, closures, and advisories.

“Because New Hampshire’s beach season is so short, it makes every beach day a precious one,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA’s goal is to eliminate chronic beach closures across New England. We are working with state and local officials to develop and implement aggressive efforts to remove sources of contamination, so that everyone can enjoy a day at the beach.”

EPA's Clean New England Beaches Initiative has helped states and local beach managers take the next steps of finding and eliminating pollution sources that cause beach closures. We are doubling our efforts this year to develop action plans for those communities with chronic closures at coastal beaches.

Polluted runoff and untreated sewage released into the water can contain bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, some of which can cause minor illnesses such as gastroenteritis or more serious diseases such as hepatitis. Runoff can be contaminated from pet waste, wildlife, illicit connections and various other sources. Sources of sewage include leaking sewer pipes, failing septic systems, boats and combined sewer overflows. Detecting these bacteria requires consistent, high quality monitoring; exposure is preventable.

The number of beach closures in any given year in New Hampshire generally has been very low. In 2007, one out of the 16 monitored beaches was closed for two days during the summer. That’s a significant decrease from 2006 when 16 days were lost resulting from one significant rain event. In 2007, NH beaches were open for swimming 99.9% of the time.

"Clean and environmentally safe beaches make an inviting destination for our visitors and residents, and they are good for peoples' health and local economies," said DES Commissioner Tom Burack. "The beach program helps to protect New Hampshire's coast through consistent, high quality monitoring of contaminants. Exposure to contaminants is preventable; monitoring allows us to address any potential problem quickly and effectively."

More information:

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EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative (epa.gov/region1/eco/beaches/)
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New Hampshire’s Public Beach Inspection Program (des.state.nh.us/Beaches/index.asp)