EPA Awards $236K for Maryland Beach Programs - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

EPA Awards $236K for Maryland Beach Programs

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

WASHINGTON- As the nation heads into the summer beach season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun awarding up to $9.24 million across 39 states, territories, and tribes to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs.

This year’s allocation includes $236,000 designated to support the Maryland beaches to implement beach monitoring and notification programs along Maryland’s shores.

“Ensuring that we have clean water for drinking and recreation is a national priority, and EPA is doing its part to make sure beachgoers stay healthy when enjoying our coastal and Great Lakes waters,” said EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler. “These grants will not only increase public information about water quality at our beaches, they will also help our government partners conduct more water testing and track down sources of contamination, if needed.”

Under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, EPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial, and tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office expects to award the funds to Maryland contingent upon eligibility requirements and availability of funding.

As part of EPA’s efforts to better protect Americans who plan to swim and play in or near the water this summer, the agency recently issued recommendations for water quality criteria and swimming advisory values for two cyanotoxins. Algal blooms caused by cyanobacteria sometimes produce cyanotoxins that can be harmful to people recreating in or on the water when present above certain concentrations. EPA’s recommendations are available for states to consider if they develop water quality standards or local swimming advisories for cyanotoxins. EPA also released infographics that states and communities can use to communicate basic information about harmful algal blooms (HABs) to the public. States, tribes and waterbody managers can download handout- and poster-sized infographic files, along with instructions on how to add local contact information, from EPA’s newly refreshed Cyanobacterial HABs website.

Since 2002, state and local governments, territories, and tribes have used nearly $167 million in EPA BEACH Act grants to monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources, and report results of monitoring and notification activities to EPA. Grant funding under the BEACH Act is part of a broader EPA effort to address sources of water pollution that contribute to beach closures.

For specific information on grants under the BEACH Act, grant guidance, and contact information for state and local beach programs, see: www.epa.gov/beach-tech/beach-grants.

To check on the latest closings and advisories at particular beaches, the public should contact the relevant state, tribal, or territorial beach program listed at: www.epa.gov/beaches/state-territorial-tribal-and-epa-beach-program-contacts.

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