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EPA Awards $224,560 to Connecticut for Water Quality Monitoring at State Beaches
Release Date: 08/20/04
Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)
For Immediate Release: Aug. 20, 2004 Release # 04-08-13
NEW LONDON, CT – At an event today at one of New London’s most popular beaches, state, local and federal officials joined the US Environmental Protection Agency as EPA announced a $224,560 grant to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to improve and expand water quality monitoring and public notification programs at state coastal beaches.
Ira Leighton, deputy regional administrator of EPA's New England Office, made the announcement at Ocean Beach Park in New London, one of 69 coastal beaches in Connecticut sampled regularly under the state's beach monitoring program to ensure that swimming conditions are safe. More than 5,000 water samples were collected and analyzed last summer alone at the DPH laboratory.
The EPA funding was made available through EPA's Clean New England Beaches Initiative, which is making a total of $1.2 million available this summer to the region's five coastal states.
Across New England last year, about one fifth of the region's 1,300 coastal beaches were closed at least one day last summer due to pollution, for a total of about 1,100 missed beach days. That's a tangible improvement from 2001, when the region's coastal beaches had nearly 1,400 beach closure days.
"We've made progress cleaning our waters across New England, but there are still far too many days when families cannot swim because the water is not safe," said Leighton, speaking at today's news conference. "Even at Ocean Beach Park, where the waters are clean, we must work to eliminate dirty storm water runoff and other pollution that leads to unhealthy swimming conditions."
Connecticut in 2003 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. New London has an effective monitoring and maintenance program at city beaches, and as a result, Ocean Beach Park has not had any beach closure days during the swim season since the program started in 2001.
New London’s vigilance has shown clear results. At Green Harbor Beach, city health officials discovered illegal connections discharging polluted water into the tidal Thames River. The city corrected the problem, resulting in a cleaner, healthier beach.
“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 DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin. “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 $800,000 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.
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, CT. 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.
Also speaking today were U.S. Representative Rob Simmons of Connecticut and New London Mayor Gerard Gaynor.
RA Column: Pollution Reduction Efforts Paying Off for New England's Beaches
Beaches and Coasts
Storm Water Topics
Combined Sewer Overflows