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U.S. EPA announces grant for protection of Hawai'i Beaches

Release Date: 4/15/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU -- During a press event today at Sunset Beach, U.S. EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri announced $324,230 in federal funding available to the Hawai'i Department of Health to support water quality monitoring and information dissemination for beaches throughout the state.

The Hawai'i Department of Health will post state monitoring data on its Website, and will also provide data for the Oahu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation's Website so residents and visitors can learn of the most up-to-date information about Hawaii's beaches.

"This funding will allow the Hawai'i Department of Health to continue monitoring beach water quality and make the results more easily available to the public," said Nastri. "Thanks to this program, beachgoers can find up-to-date information that can help them make informed decisions on when and where to enter the water."

In the past year, DOH has done the following to protect beach goers from pollution:

-increased sampling frequency at certain beach monitoring stations such as
Sunset Beach, Ala Moana Park and Kailua Beach;
-provided outreach to citizen groups; and
-posted advisories when warranted by sewage spills or continuous high bacterial counts for 62 days.

The funding is from the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act). With today's funding, the EPA has provided the state with over $1 million of BEACH grant funds since 2001. The state uses the grant funding to maintain and strengthen its monitoring and notification program, and to make monitoring results readily available to the public.

Beach advisories are issued because of high levels of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites in the water. These microorganisms can come from untreated or partially treated sewage, and runoff pollution. A person coming into contact with contaminated water could experience gastrointestinal infections, and skin or ear infections.

Beach users can avoid exposure to unsafe conditions by finding out if a beach is monitored regularly and posted for swimming advisories; choosing swimming sites in less developed areas with good water circulation; and avoid swimming at beaches near discharge pipes or at urban beaches after a heavy rainfall.