The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing the National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants. This document provides performance criteria for monitoring and assessment of coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches and prompt public notification of any exceedance or likelihood of exceedance of applicable water quality standards for pathogens and pathogen indicators for coastal recreation waters. It also outlines the eligibility requirements for monitoring and notification program implementation grants under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 406(b).
The document is intended to be used by potential grant recipients to implement effective programs for monitoring and assessing coastal recreation waters. It also will serve as requirements for Federal agencies to implement beach monitoring and notification programs when States do not implement a program consistent with the performance criteria.
Interested persons may obtain a copy of the document from the EPA Web site www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches  or by contacting the Office of Water Resources Center at 202-260-7786 or [email protected] . The mailing address is Office of Water Resources Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RC-4100, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please request the National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants (EPA-823-B-02-004), June 2002.
What Does the BEACH Act Require?
The BEACH Act was passed on October 10, 2000. It amended the CWA to add section 406, which authorizes EPA to award grants to states and tribes to develop and implement a program to monitor and assess for pathogens and pathogen indicators coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches or similar points of access that are used by the public and to notify the public if applicable water quality standards for pathogens and pathogen indicators are exceeded.
What Is the Purpose of the Document?
This document sets forth performance criteria for
-- monitoring and assessing coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches (or similar points of access used by the public) to determine attainment of applicable water quality standards for pathogen indicators, and
-- promptly notifying the public of any exceedance or likelihood of exceedance of applicable water quality standards for pathogen indicators for coastal recreation waters.
EPA is required to publish such performance criteria under CWA section 406(a).
This document also includes EPA's recommendations for implementing programs consistent with the performance criteria. In addition, this document can serve as a reference guide for how and when to conduct preliminary beach assessments because it outlines protocols for water sample collection, sample handling and laboratory analysis. It also provides information about using predictive models to estimate indicator levels and includes procedures for notifying the public about beach advisories, closings and openings.
How Is the Document Organized?
The chapters in this document cover the following topics.
-- Chapter 1 discusses human health concerns associated with exposure to pathogens and discusses the establishment of water quality standards for bacteria.
-- Chapter 2 summarizes the basic requirements that an applicant must meet to receive a program implementation grant. The chapter identifies relevant sections of the BEACH Act, briefly describes the corresponding performance criteria that EPA has developed and provides additional grant-related information.
-- Chapter 3 describes the risk-based evaluation process that EPA recommends for states and tribes to classify and prioritize their recreation beaches. This step-by-step approach allows states and tribes to assess the relative human health risks and usage of their beaches and to assign an appropriate management ranking to each of them.
-- Chapter 4 discusses the performance criteria related to monitoring and assessment and provides detailed technical guidance.
-- Chapter 5 describes the performance criteria and technical guidance related to the public notification and risk communication portions of a beach program.
The appendices include detailed technical information associated with the topics discussed in the five chapters.