EPA Releases Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Tool

Tool designed to help beach managers identify sources of bacterial contamination at their beaches

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a new tool available that will help keep more Great Lakes beaches open for swimming. The Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Tool is designed to help beach managers identify sources of bacterial contamination at their beaches so they can address them. It was developed and piloted at beaches around the Great Lakes but can be effective at any beach. Many Great Lakes beach managers have said they will use the survey at their beaches this summer.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and this new national clean water tool will help beach managers be pollution detectives upstream to prevent beach closures downstream," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.

This tool was developed as a result of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration's efforts to identify sources of contamination at Great Lakes beaches. EPA provided a grant of $525,000 to test the effectiveness of the tool at 61 beaches around the Great Lakes during the summer of 2007.

A beach sanitary survey is an evaluation of the beach area and surrounding watershed for existing and potential sources of pollution. Information collected may include the number of birds at a beach, slope of the beach, location and condition of bathrooms, amount of algae present, location of storm water outfalls and soundness of residential septic tanks.

EPA also announced a $222,240 grant to Wisconsin to monitor its Great Lakes beaches and provide information to the public. Beach water monitoring enables beach managers to better protect public health. When bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels, beaches are closed or advisories are issued. The grant is part of $9.5 million awarded to 35 coastal states, tribes and territories nationwide in 2008. This is the eighth year grants are being made available since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health BEACH Act in October 2000.

EPA estimates Americans make 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion. A decade ago, state and local monitoring and notification programs differed across the country. These grants are designed to consistently protect and inform the public before swimming.

The Great Lakes Beach Sanitary Survey Tool can be found online at www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/sanitarysurvey.


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