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EPA's Coastal Crusader Hits the Skies to Kick-Off Beach Season National Beach Grant for New Jersey's Beaches Was Announced

Release Date: 05/27/2005
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For Immediate Release: Friday, May 27, 2005

(#05065) NEW YORK -- Demonstrating their ongoing commitment to protect the ocean for beach-goers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Regional Administrator, Kathleen C. Callahan, joined U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg on board EPA's surveillance helicopter to kick-off the Agency's annual beach monitoring program. The officials scanned the coastal waters of New Jersey, gathering water samples to test the health of local waters. This marks the twenty-ninth year of EPA's annual summer helicopter monitoring program, during which the Agency takes water quality samples to determine whether the levels of bacteria in the water are safe for the millions of people who flock to the beach every year. U.S. Representative Frank J. Pallone also joined the officials in Sea Bright today to mark the opening of the beach season.

"We want to make sure that beach-goers have a safe and enjoyable experience at our beautiful beaches," said Kathleen C. Callahan. "EPA monitors local waters every summer to get the vital information that allows people to swim with confidence."

Statistics show that Americans take 910 million trips a year to coastal areas and spend around $44 billion at these locations. In addition to taking water samples, EPA uses the Coastal Crusader to search for floating debris that can wash up on area beaches. EPA then shares its results with federal, state and local agencies to help local authorities decide whether there is any need to close the beaches. Data are also given to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which use skimmer vessels to skim debris from the surface water and ensure that no floating debris is washed ashore.

In addition, EPA announced earlier this week that it has awarded nearly $10 million to continue current beach monitoring and notification programs, bringing the five-year total to $42 million. New Jersey will receive $280,780 and New York State will receive $354,580 of that grant money. Since 2001, New Jersey has received $906,985 and New York State has received $1,138,485 to monitor beach water quality and to inform the public when there is a problem.

EPA uses the chopper throughout the beach season to test for dissolved oxygen as far as nine miles off the coastline. Ocean waters must meet certain levels of dissolved oxygen to ensure their health. In addition, EPA conducts semi-monthly sampling for phytoplankton. The samples provide an early warning of noxious algae blooms that threaten water quality and the sea life it supports.

This year, along with routine phytoplankton monitoring, a pilot study will be conducted to determine the usefulness of a micro spectrometer remote sensing device. The device could allow real-time qualitative decisions for more efficient phytoplankton sampling. The system will be used in the helicopter along the New Jersey coast and back bays. NJDEP will conduct the phytoplankton identification.

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