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EPA Announces $1.1 Million For Beach Monitoring in New England

Release Date: 04/14/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that $1.1 million of grants are being made available to New England's five coastal states to improve water quality monitoring at beaches and public notification about pollution problems. The grants are a key part of EPA's Clean New England Beaches Initiative, which was launched last summer.
"Despite the recent weather, warm weather and summer are fast approaching," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This funding will help ensure that the summer will be a safe one for swimmers. It also brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal of nobody missing a chance to swim because of pollution."

New England has over 400 coastal beaches. Swimming at beaches can pose a health risk if the water is contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms. Typical pollution sources include sewer overflows, malfunctioning septic systems and stormwater runoff.

More than 153 saltwater beaches in New England were closed because of pollution for at least one day in the 2001 season for a total of more than 374 beach-days. Those totals do not include data from many municipally-managed beaches. EPA will be releasing last summer's beach closure data later this spring.

States must apply for the grants by June 30. They will be able to use the grants to improve state programs and to fund programs that assist towns and other agencies that manage local or municipal public beaches. The programs will focus both on improving the quality and frequency of water quality testing and ensuring timely notification to the public when swimming conditions are unsafe.

Available amounts for each state are:

      Connecticut $223,921
      Maine $257,766
      Massachusetts $257,453
      New Hampshire $203,594
      Rhode Island $212,340
The grants are part of $9.9 million available nationally, and follow $1.1 million given to New England states last year. The funding was made possible by the passage of the federal Beach Protection Act in 2000

The grants are a key part of EPA's Clean New England Beaches Initiative, announced last summer. Accomplishments to date include:

    • providing federal beach grants to boost water quality monitoring, pollution assessments and public notification about water quality.
    • designating 11 "Flagship" beaches in the region for targeted attention through enhanced beach monitoring, assessments and pollution management. The ‘Flagship' beaches were chosen as examples of high use beaches serving diverse or low-income populations with a history of beach closures, but that had strong potential for improvement. Surveys to identify pollution sources have been planned or completed at all of the Flagship beaches. Three of the surveys were done by EPA staff.
    • providing technical assistance - and, where appropriate, enforcement support – to local and state agencies to identify and reduce pollution sources, focusing primarily on non-point pollution sources. In particular, EPA has been conducting workshops for municipal officials on implementing programs to control pollution from stormwater runoff, with an emphasis on actions that can affect beaches.
    • funding a project at the University of Rhode Island to develop new water quality tests that provide quicker results (current tests typically require 24 hours for results).
    • having quarterly meetings with state beach managers: topics included microbial source tracking methods, beach closure database, comparison of beach monitoring and closure programs.
More information on the Clean New England Beaches Initiative is available at