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EPA Provides $204,530 for Environmental Monitoring of New Hampshire Shoreline Beaches


With the Fourth of July holiday upon us, and the summer beach season in high gear, EPA’s New England office is awarding a $204,530 grant to help support the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) Public Beach Inspection Program. The grant funds will be used to continue efforts to monitor water quality at New Hampshire coastal beaches to ensure that people enjoying the beach are also enjoying healthy water conditions.

The EPA funding is made available through the federal Beach Act of 2000, which requires coastal states to monitor beaches and notify the public about water quality. Since 2001, New Hampshire has been awarded $1,081,524 towards improving water quality monitoring and reporting at shoreline beaches. With this year’s funds, the amount awarded in the region will surpass $7 million.

The EPA funding has allowed the NH DES to increase the number of coastal beaches that are regularly monitored from nine to 16, and to improve the reporting of beach monitoring results, closures, and advisories.

“Because New Hampshire’s beach season is so short, it makes every beach day a precious one,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA’s goal is to eliminate chronic beach closures across New England. We are working with state and local officials to develop and implement aggressive efforts to remove sources of contamination, so that everyone can enjoy a day at the beach.”

EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative has helped states and local beach managers take the next steps of finding and eliminating pollution sources that cause beach closures. We are doubling our efforts this year to develop action plans for those communities with chronic contamination problems for beach water.

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. Detecting these bacteria requires consistent, high quality monitoring; exposure is preventable.

The number of beach closures in any given year in New Hampshire generally has been very low. In 2006, five out of the 16 monitored beaches were closed for one or several days for a total of 23 days during the summer. That’s a slight increase from previous years, although 16 of the 23 days were the result of runoff from one significant rain event.


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