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Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543
PHILADELPHIA – With summer vacations in full swing, vacationers may want the best source of information on the quality of the water at a favorite ocean beach – it’s your local public health department or state environmental office.
Now, the results of their monitoring are available on the web. See EPA’s regional website http://www.epa.gov/reg3esd1/coast/index.htm and jump to beach information. Another pathway to beach information is state environmental agency websites, an example is http://www.mde.state.md.us/CitizensInfoCenter/Health/beaches.asp. Then, go to the bottom of the page click on Earth911 for a map of U.S. coastal beaches.
“The environmental and economic value of coastal beaches can not be overstated.
EPA and our state and local partners work 365 days a year to help protect these valuable resources for recreation, said Donald S. Welsh, mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
With more than half of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of the coasts, many summer vacation plans will include visiting the beach. Our coastal waters are priceless resources, providing recreation and enjoyment for millions of people. An estimated 180 million Americans visit U.S. coastal areas each year, spending more than $600 billion. One out of every six jobs in the U.S. is marine-related, generating $54 billion in goods and services annually. Coastal recreation and tourism generate $8 to $12 billion annually.
Coastal waters provide some of the most diverse and biologically productive habitats on the planet, supporting 75 percent of all U.S. commercial fish catch, and 80 to 90 percent of the recreational fish catch.
In the mid-Atlantic region, EPA works with state and local agencies who monitor the health of coastal beaches. Teams of EPA scientists sample from ships along the coast. Surveillance planes monitor coastal waters from overhead, looking for oil slicks and debris and counting whales, dolphins, sea-turtles.
Over the past 35 years, our nation has succeeded in fighting back some of the most blatant threats to America's waters. The dumping of dredged materials, municipal and industrial discharges, and some discharges from vessels are now regulated. These measures have helped to reduce harm to coastal environments and to people who use them. EPA is committed to the continued protection of these resources and is working in partnership with state and local governments and organizations to ensure that they continue to be safe and enjoyable to all. EPA is a member of various task forces addressing coastal issues and there are partnership efforts in place that focus on marine debris, invasive species, and other coastal watershed issues.
The greatest gains in coastal protection have come from voluntary public efforts. Simple activities like picking up trash and pet waste, recycling used motor oil, disposing of household chemicals properly, and fixing oil leaks in automobiles all have a positive effect. Pollution prevention efforts continue to encourage reducing polluted runoff, sewage overflows, and failing septic systems to protect the health of our coastal beaches.