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EPA Funding Protects Beach-Goers in U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 05/25/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, May 25, 2005

(#05062) San Juan, Puerto Rico - - As Americans plan their summer vacations this Memorial Day weekend, EPA is helping the U.S. Virgin Islands with its beach monitoring and public notification programs. EPA today announced almost $10 million in grants nationally to assist in monitoring for pathogens in recreational waters. Over the past four years, EPA has provided nearly $42 million in grant money to 35 coastal states and territories. The U.S. Virgin Islands is slated to received more than $303,000 and has received a total of nearly $960,000 since the grant program began in 2001.

"Beaches play a central role in recreation and tourism in the U.S. Virgin Islands," said Kathy Callahan, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "This grant will help enhance the Territories monitoring program so that the public and vacationers can continue to enjoy trips to the U.S. Virgin Island's beaches with confidence."

Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) in October 2000 to make monitoring programs more consistent nationwide, improve water quality testing at the beach, and help beach managers better inform the public about water quality problems. The Act authorizes EPA to award grants to help eligible states, tribes, and territories develop and implement beach water quality monitoring and notification programs. These grants also help develop and implement programs to inform the public about the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in coastal waters (including the Great Lakes).

The EPA's Clean Beaches Plan finalized in April 2004 is helping state, commonwealth, territory, tribal, and local beach managers strengthen their programs. This plan describes what EPA will do over the next couple of years to achieve two major goals: promote recreational water quality programs nationwide and create scientific improvements that support timely recreational water monitoring and reporting. The plan also recognizes that beach managers need tools that allow for local and regional differences in pollution sources and climate.

In addition, EPA's Office of Research and Development sponsors research to improve the understanding of human health risks associated with pathogens in recreational waters and to provide better, faster indicators for monitoring pathogens in recreational waters.

Related Links:
Beach and Recreational Water Quality and Monitoring
Water Quality at Beaches
Helicopter Monitoring Report