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EPA Provides Over $220,000 for Environmental Monitoring of Connecticut Shoreline Beaches

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

Boston - (August 13, 2008) With the summer beach season in high gear, EPA’s New England office is awarding a $220,500 grant to help support the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) beach program. The grant funds will be used to continue efforts to monitor water quality conditions at Connecticut’s Long Island Sound beaches to ensure that people enjoying the beach are also enjoying healthy water conditions.

This EPA funding was 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, Connecticut has been awarded $1,404,594 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 will allow the CT DPH to bring water quality samples from municipal and state park beaches to the state laboratory in Hartford for analysis, and assist Connecticut with reporting beach monitoring results, closures and advisories. This means that samples collected by local health departments, which administer the municipal beaches, and by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, which manages the state beaches, are analyzed using the same procedures, ensuring consistent, high-quality results.

“Because Connecticut’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.
Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. stated that “I know the people of Connecticut care deeply about the environmental health of their coastal waters. That is why I am pleased the EPA can help us keep closer track of ocean water quality at our beaches. These funds will help our state continue to ensure that a day at a beach is a day to remember for all the right reasons.”

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.

Since 2001, CT DPH has monitored between 67 and 73 beaches. The number of beach closures in any given year in Connecticut has been low. In 2007, 33 out of 66 monitored beaches were closed one or several days. That’s a significant decrease from 2006 in the number of beach advisories and closures as well as the number of beaches with advisories or closures. It is still safe to swim over 98% of time in CT, leaving some room for future improvement.

More information about EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative:
http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/beaches .

More information about
Connecticut beaches from CT DPH.

More information about swimming conditions at
Connecticut state park beaches from CT DEP