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Report: Beachgoers Can Expect Good Conditions


America’s beach scorecard topped 95 percent during 2006, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s just-released Annual Beach Report. Of more than 676,000 beach days, fewer than five percent were restricted due to contamination-related closings. More than half of the actions lasted for two days or less.

More than 3,700 beaches were monitored by 35 states and territories under EPA’s Beach Program. Fewer beaches were in the program than in 2005 due to consolidations and corrected state survey data. Beach contamination often results from stormwater running off streets, fields, forests, and other sources.

“We’re seeing progress in keeping America’s beaches clean but significant challenges remain,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “The administration is committed to working with our partners to prevent pollution, monitor water quality, and provide the public with timely and useful information on beach closures and advisories.”

(Beach days are those counted during the customary beach season for a given area. Many are seasonal, although beach days may be counted for most or all of a calendar year in warmer climates.)

EPA and its state partners are improving data collection and reporting, which will provide a more complete picture of the nation’s beaches. The EPA Beach Grant program has made available $62 million to 35 coastal and Great Lakes states and territories since the passage of the BEACH Act in 2000. The funding level for beach monitoring will continue at $9.9 million this year.

EPA beach research centers on new and ongoing activities meant to establish benchmarks, explore emerging technologies and refine methodology. Each of these actions is focused on preventing the pollution that can make the beaches and waters unsafe:

development of a new test for water-borne pathogens that will provide results within two hours
research to determine the incidence of health effects associated with beach water
uncovering and correcting sources of disease-causing microorganisms
working with communities to help build and properly operate their sewage treatment plants and end sewage overflows from outdated sewer systems
implementing a national storm water program to reduce urban runoff
working with the Coast Guard to improve sewage and other waste disposal from recreational boats and other vessels


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