Region 1: EPA New England
Regional Beach Initiative
The overall goal of EPA's Beach Initiative is to protect public health by reducing the pollution levels that cause beach closures in New England. To meet this goal, the number of beach closures must be reduced, based on a monitoring, assessment and public notification program consistent with EPA's tiered monitoring guidance.
EPA works closely with state environmental and public health agencies to develop and implement the new beach initiative. EPA focuses its efforts on providing technical assistance to state and local environmental and public health agencies for assessment and monitoring as needed and as funds allow, and will back up its assistance efforts with regulatory and enforcement tools where appropriate.
The Primary Objectives:
- Monitor water quality at beaches, assess pollution sources, notify public. More »
- Control pollution sources that contribute to beach closures. More »
- Establish "Flagship" Beaches to track performance. More »
- Promote high quality monitoring and assessment methods. More »
- Promote information transfer and communication. More »
- Involve and educate the public and municipalities on their roles. More »
Ensure states and municipalities monitor water quality at beaches, assess sources of pathogens and notify the public of water quality conditions consistent with EPA's performance criteria using funding provided by federal BEACH grants.
This step includes a tiered monitoring program which uses a beach classification system to determine the appropriate frequency of beach monitoring. The sources of pathogens will be assessed and a public notification system will be developed. Grants totaling $1.1 million per year for 5 coastal states will be used to develop and implement state beach programs. BEACH grants will be used to list and classify beaches; determine the cause of beach closures; and conduct training for states and municipalities for sanitary surveys.
EPA also provides technical assistance to communities to identify and control sources of fecal contamination from storm water and other sources.
Control non-point and storm water pollution sources that contribute to beach closures.
No storm water discharging to or near a recreational water should contain sewage. This can be achieved by meeting predetermined storm water controls. MS4 communities should meet the NPDES Phase II Storm Water Rule, while non-MS4 communities should meet ‘Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination'' controls using S.319 funds. Visit our Stormwater , Non-point Source, and 319 Grants pages for more information.
Establish “Flagship” Beaches program to track performance at priority beaches.
Flagship beaches were selected by the state's environmental and health agencies to provide an example of the Beach Initiative in progress. The Flagship beaches are a focal point for state efforts, and are expected to achieve success. Click for a list of Flagship beaches.
Promote high quality monitoring and assessment methods for bacteria indicators and pathogens.
- EPA New England's lab is building its own capacity to conduct molecular-based microbial source tracking (MST) and promote the establishment of this technology at state agencies and academic institutions throughout New England.
- EPA also supports new technologies that will provide analyses in a more real-time fashion.
- EPA will ensure that state labs have a Quality Assurance Management Plan (QAMP), an EPA-approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), and conduct self-audits.
Promote information transfer and communications.
A state-federal workgroup has been established to exchange relevant scientific and technical issues. New Beach grants, Microbial Source tracking, beach monitoring databases and closure reporting have been discussed.
In addition, this beach web site was created to exchange information and provide a hub for local, state and federal beach monitoring programs and public notification systems.
Involve and educate the public and municipalities on their role - in pollution control, cleanup effort, monitoring and advocacy.
Material will be developed with information about volunteer monitoring, beach or lake advocacy groups, stenciling storm drains and other ways that the public can get involved and help improve the water quality at their beach.