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Go on In, the Water’s Fine - EPA’s Coastal Water Quality Monitoring Indicates Good Results

Release Date: 7/3/2001
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, (215)814-5543

Bonnie Smith, (215)814-5543

PHILADELPHIA -- Just in time for the July 4th holiday, the results are in. Data from coastal water quality tests from Cape May, New Jersey to southern Virginia were uniformly good, even given last week’s extremely hot weather.

The results were reported from EPA’s research vessel, the Lear, whose team takes to the ocean waters each spring on a mission to monitor ocean water quality along East Coast beaches. The Marine and Coastal Team has completed its second survey of the year as part of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual summer-long survey of mid-Atlantic coastal waters. EPA has monitored these coastal waters since the mid-1980's.

“Each year, thousands of people visit East Coast beaches. Visitors can feel more secure knowing that EPA is on the job, making sure that ocean waters are safe and clean,”said Tom Voltaggio, acting EPA regional administrator.

As part of its coastal sampling last week, the team conducted bacteria tests, to give a more complete picture of water quality along the beaches from Delaware Bay to Pimilco Bay. The results confirmed good water quality, at levels meeting EPA’s criteria for safe swimming.

In addition to research boats, EPA, with assistance from the Civil Air Patrol, uses a small plane for aerial surveillance so scientists can look for algal blooms, floating trash, oil slicks, dead fish, and other indications of environmental problems. Scientists also count and track the number of dolphins and whales they see as indicators of ocean water quality.

Monitoring efforts such as these over the past 10 years have shown dramatic improvements in water quality in the area. An increase in the clarity of the water and a decrease in the amount of algae observed are both indicators of healthy water.