As part of the U.S. EPA’s plan to help deliver clean beaches to Americans nationwide, Administrator Stephen L. Johnson presented Gov. Robert Ehrlich with a $270,000 grant to improve Maryland beaches. The Bush Administration will award $10 million this year to 30 states and five territories for water quality monitoring.
“Through today’s $10 million commitment, President Bush is protecting America’s beaches and promoting our local economies,” Johnson said. “As we see here in Ocean City, the president’s Clean Beaches Plan is bringing visitors to the shore to enjoy the sun, surf and shops.”
“I thank the EPA for both their generous grant and for supporting Maryland’s efforts to keep our beaches safe,” said Gov. Ehrlich. “Enhanced beach monitoring will enable us to continue the state’s efforts to improve water quality and ensure that people can continue to enjoy Maryland’s beautiful beaches.”
Over the past six years, President Bush and EPA have provided nearly $52 million under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act to states with shorelines along the nation’s coasts or around the Great Lakes. Nearly one third of all Americans visit costal waters, contributing nearly $44 billion each year to local economies.
Because of EPA’s commitment to clean water, the number of beaches monitored has more than tripled nationwide in the past decade. Beach water monitoring helps identify what needs to be done—such as warnings, and more importantly, actions to prevent closings—when bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels. EPA is also developing new technologies to yield faster test results. With the new tests, local health agencies will be able to act more quickly if a beach has to be closed for swimming.
Additionally, as part of its public-awareness efforts, EPA has created an interactive website for kids that includes games, information on how to protect beaches and beach safety.