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U.S. EPA Makes Grant Funds Available for Protection of CNMI Beaches
Release Date: 4/8/2003
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi (808) 541-2711
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has made $301,648 available to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas to protect public health at its beaches.
The funds are targeted to improve water quality monitoring at beaches and notifying the public of beach warnings or closings and is part of $10 million made available nationally.
"EPA is continuing its mission to ensure safer, purer water, to protect public health, and to provide assistance to states, territories and local health agencies to better monitor beach water quality and notify the public when there may be a problem," said Catherine Kuhlman, the EPA's water division director for the Pacific Southwest. "With this money we hope to reduce the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in the water while people enjoy CNMI's incredible water resources."
Available to 35 eligible states and territories, the $10 million in beach grants vary from $149,025 to $544,552. The grants are based on criteria including the length of beach season, the miles of beaches and the number of people using those beaches.
State, territorial and local monitoring and notification programs often differ across the country and provide varying levels of swimmer protection. These grant funds are designed to ensure that the public receives better protection when traveling to various beaches across the country. The EPA estimates that Americans make a total of 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion.
According to the EPA's 2002 Beach Survey, more than a quarter of the 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. The EPA's annual National Beach Survey, which provides the results of a voluntary survey on swimming conditions from the previous summer at nearly 2,500 beaches nationwide, will be released later this spring.
The EPA is helping states and territories set recreational water quality standards, based on EPA-established criteria and helping states provide better monitoring and information to the public. The EPA also funds research and provides technical support to states.
The funds are available under a federal law passed by Congress in 2000, the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act). The new law established a national program for monitoring beach water quality and notifying the public of unsafe conditions.
Additional beach information, including information for states and territories interested in applying for the grants, is available on EPA's BEACH WATCH Web site: https://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches.
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