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With Summer Approaching, EPA Offers Connecticut $224,290 to Monitor Coastal Beaches

Release Date: 06/15/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865,

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2005; Release # sr050612

BOSTON – At an event today at one of the state’s most popular beaches, state, local and federal officials joined the US Environmental Protection Agency as EPA announced a $224,290 grant to the Connecticut Department of Public Health to help make the state’s coastal beaches cleaner and healthier for swimming.

Robert W. Varney, administrator of EPA's New England Office, made the announcement at Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme, one of 67 coastal beaches in Connecticut sampled regularly under the state's beach monitoring program to ensure that swimming conditions are safe. More than 1,000 water samples were collected and analyzed last summer at the DPH laboratory.

The EPA funding was made available through EPA's Clean New England Beaches Initiative, which is making a total of $1.15 million available this summer to the region's five coastal states.
Across New England last year, about one fourth of the region's 1,000 coastal beaches were closed at least one day last summer due to pollution, for a total of about 1,000 missed beach days. That's a tangible improvement from 2001, when the region's coastal beaches had nearly 1,400 beach closure days.

"The coastal waters of Connecticut and across New England are much cleaner than they were five years ago, but our beaches are still at risk of pollution and in need of our vigilant attention," said Robert Varney speaking at the grant presentation. “Polluted runoff from storms and other pollution, even at Rocky Neck, can leave the water unhealthy for swimming.”

“Enjoying a cool swim on a hot day is one of the great pleasures of summer,” said DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy. “Working closely with our counterparts at the state and federal level, Connecticut has developed one of the most comprehensive beach monitoring programs in the country. Throughout the summer all of our state swimming areas are monitored frequently so that swimmers have confidence that the water that they are in is clean and safe, helping to ensure an enjoyable and refreshing visit to our beaches.”

Connecticut in 2004 had only a handful of beach closure days at coastal beaches outside of Fairfield County, which is on the edge of the high density area of New York City. Money provided by EPA during the past four years has helped the state maintain an effective monitoring and maintenance program at city beaches.

“Connecticut's beach protection program is a great example of what public health is all about to protect the public's health and safety by making sure they have clean and safe places to go swimming and enjoy Connecticut's beaches," said Ellen Blaschinski, Branch Chief for the Bureau of Regulatory Services, accepting the award for the Connecticut Department of Public Health. "We are pleased to be the recipient of these Beach Act resources, which have allowed us, through our partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and local health departments, to ensure safe bathing water in the state."

EPA has awarded Connecticut a total of $958,000 since 2001 to support and expand the state's beach monitoring programs. The funding was made possible by the Federal Beach Act approved by Congress in 2000.

Connecticut in 2004 had only a handful of beach closure days at coastal beaches outside of Fairfield County, which is on the edge of the high density area of New York City. Rocky Neck closed in 2003 for two days for elevated bacteria but had no closures last summer.

Launched two summers ago, EPA's New England Beaches Initiative selected 11 flagship beaches across New England, including Ocean Beach Park and Rocky Neck in East Lyme. These beaches were chosen as models for other beach managers and are based on several criteria: serving large populations; a history of beach closures due to pollution; high quality monitoring already in place; and a strong potential for state and federal resources to be used.

Polluted runoff and untreated sewage released into the water can contain bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, some of which can cause minor illnesses such as gastroenteritis or more serious diseases such as hepatitis. Runoff can be contaminated from pet waste, wildlife, illicit connections and various other sources. Sources of sewage include leaking sewer pipes, failing septic systems, boats and combined sewer overflows.

For more information about EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative, visit the agency’s web site at

For information about swimming conditions at Connecticut beaches, visit the CT DEP web site at Click icon for EPA disclaimer.

Related Information:
Beaches and Coasts
Clean Marine Engines
Storm Water Topics
Non-Point Source
Combined Sewer Overflows