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U.S. EPA Awards Beach Grant to Hawai'i Department of Health

Release Date: 6/27/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

State to receive $324,592 to monitor beaches and notify public of any contamination
     HONOLULU -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's, Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri, announced today the EPA has made $324,592 available to Hawai'i to protect public health at its beaches as part of $10 million made available nationally.

     The funds are targeted to improve water quality monitoring at beaches and to notify the public of beach warnings or closings.

     "EPA's funding for the continued monitoring of water quality at Hawai'i's beaches will ensure that the state's residents and visitors will be able to enjoy safe and clean beaches statewide," said Nastri. "The Department of Health's monitoring program will help to reduce the public's risk of exposure to bacteria and other contaminants at beaches and coastal waters."

     The Hawai'i Department of Health's Clean Water Branch will use the funds to continue its effort to monitor Hawai'i's coastal waters for bacteria and other pollutants and notify the public of any beach contamination by posting warnings or closing beaches when necessary.
     To protect public health at the nation's beaches, the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act was passed in October 2000.  The act requires states that have coastal beaches, like Hawaii, to adopt revised water quality standards for bacterial indicators.  It also authorized the EPA to award grants to states to develop and implement beach monitoring and public notification programs

     The Department of Health has previously received a total of $382,000 in BEACH grant funds since the beginning of the program. The Department of Health monitors coastal beaches every week at about 40 locations statewide to ensure coastal waters meet state water quality standards. The state also uses BEACH funds to support their laboratories that analyze the water samples.
     According to the EPA's 2002 Beach Survey, more than a quarter of the nation's reported beaches (about 672) issued at least one swimming advisory or closure in the summer of 2001. Most of these advisories were due to elevated bacteria levels primarily from sewage overflows or storm water runoff. Swimming at contaminated beaches can lead to gastrointestinal infections from bacteria in the water.
     Additional beach information is available on EPA's BEACH WATCH Web site:
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