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Whitman Announces $10 Million for States to Protect Public Health at Beaches
Release Date: 04/04/2003
John Millett 202-564-7842 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(04/04/03) EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced nearly $10 million in grants available to eligible states and territories to protect public health at the nation’s beaches. The funds are targeted to improve monitoring the quality of water at beaches and notifying the public of beach warnings or closings.
“EPA is continuing its mission to ensure safer, purer water, to protect public health, and to provide assistance to states, territories, and local health agencies to better monitor beach water quality and notify the public when there may be a problem. With this money we hope to reduce the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in the water while people enjoy America’s incredible water resources,” Whitman said.
According to EPA’s 2002 Beach Survey, more than a quarter of the reported beaches (about 672) issued at least one swimming advisory or closure in the summer of 2001. Most of these advisories were due to elevated bacteria levels primarily from sewage overflows or storm water runoff. EPA’s annual National Beach Survey, which provides the results of a voluntary survey on swimming conditions from the previous summer at nearly 2,500 beaches nationwide, will be released later this spring.
Available to 35 eligible states and territories, the $10 million in beach grants vary from $149,025 to $544,552. The grants are based on criteria including the length of beach season, the miles of beaches and the number of people using those beaches.
State and local monitoring and notification programs often differ across the country and provide varying levels of swimmer protection. These grant funds are designed to ensure that the public receives better protection when traveling to various beaches across the country. EPA estimates that Americans make a total of 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion.
EPA is helping states set recreational water quality standards, based on EPA-established criteria and helping states provide better monitoring and information to the public. EPA also funds research and provides technical support to states.
The funds are available under a federal law passed by Congress in 2000, the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act). The new law established a national program for monitoring beach water quality and notifying the public of unsafe conditions.
If all 35 eligible states and territories apply and meet the performance criteria, the distribution of the $ 9.935 million in funds for year 2003 will be:
|For the State or Territory of:||The year 2003 allocation is:|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||$301,483|
Additional beach information, including information for states and territories interested in applying for the grants, is available on EPA’s BEACH WATCH Web site: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches.