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Time-Relevant Beach and Recreational Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting (59 pp, 1.79 MB) October 2002
Is it safe to swim at local beaches today? What are the best ways to communicate current water quality conditions to the public? This handbook provides information on how to design and implement a time-relevant water quality monitoring program for beaches and other recreational waters. The handbook is intended for people who are considering developing a recreational water quality monitoring program for their community or wish to enhance their existing program.
The National Risk Management Research Laboratory of EPA's Office of Research and Development initiated the development of this handbook to help interested communities learn more about the beach monitoring projects associated with EPA's Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) Program, and to give communities the information they need to conduct their own projects. Much of the information in this handbook is provided through case studies of three monitoring projects that address the concerns of recreational swimmers, boaters, and other water users, primarily by:
- Monitoring recreational waters for indicators of waterborne pathogens (disease-causing organisms).
- Collecting and managing water quality data in efficient ways.
- Notifying the public in a timely fashion of water quality conditions.
The handbook follows the three case study projects through the design and implementation of their time-relevant recreational water quality monitoring programs, the development of management and delivery systems for water quality data, and the creation and implementation of public notification and risk communication programs.
The three beach/recreational water case study projects highlighted in this document were conducted before Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act in October 2000, and these projects may not necessarily reflect guidance associated with the BEACH Act. The EPA National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants, or Beach Guidance Document (U.S. EPA, 2002), lists the beach program monitoring and notification criteria, as established in the BEACH Act, that a state must meet to obtain BEACH grants. To learn more about the BEACH Act, BEACH grants, and the Beach Guidance Document.