EPA offers grants to states for monitoring and public notification programs at beaches
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $2 million in grants available to eligible states to protect public health at the nation's beaches.
May 25, 2001—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $2 million in grants available to eligible states to protect public health at the nation's beaches.
These grants are available to coastal and Great Lakes states to develop programs to monitor water quality at the beach and to notify the public when water quality problems exist.
Each year state, tribal, and local health and environmental protection agencies monitor the quality of water at the Nation's beaches. When measured bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public of beach warnings or closings.
State and local monitoring and notification programs differ across the country and provide varying levels of swimmer protection.
In an effort to improve water quality testing at the beach and public notification when water quality problems exist, Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act).
This Act, passed on October 10, 2000, authorizes EPA to award grants to eligible states, tribes, and territories to develop and implement beach water quality monitoring programs at coastal and Great Lakes recreational waters near beaches. These grants also provide support for the development and implementation of programs to reduce the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in the water to users of the Nation's beaches.
In fiscal year 2001, EPA expects to award approximately $2 million in grants to eligible states and territories for beach program development. Once all applications for funding are received, grants will be awarded to eligible states and territories in equal amounts.
The size of the award is expected to range between $50,000 to $60,000, depending on the number of applicants. Over the next five years, EPA is authorized to issue additional funds to eligible states, tribes, territories and local governments to support the development and implementation of monitoring and notification programs.
States eligible for the BEACH grants are states that have coastal and Great Lakes recreational waters adjacent to beaches or similar points of access used by the public. Under the BEACH Act, EPA is authorized to treat tribes in a manner similar to a state.
EPA expects to accept grant applications from tribes in fiscal year 2002.
The BEACH Act requires EPA to publish performance criteria for monitoring and notification of coastal recreation waters by April 2002. EPA expects to publish performance criteria for implementation of coastal recreation water monitoring and public notification programs in fall 2001.
In order to receive grants for beach program implementation, states will be required to demonstrate how they are meeting the performance criteria. In fall 2002, if a state has not yet applied for beach program development grants, then a local government may apply for funding to help them develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs that are consistent with EPA performance criteria.
Eligible states and territories may obtain an application from their regional EPA beach contact. These contacts are listed in the Federal Register Notice of Availability for the BEACH grants.
The Federal Register Notice will be available on EPA's Beach Watch web site at http://www.epa.gov/ost/beaches/ on the Internet.
For more information on the BEACH grants, contact the appropriate EPA Regional beach program representative or contact Charles Kovatch at 202-260-3754; email@example.com.