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Release Date: 06/17/2003
Contact Information: Carl Terry (404) 562-8325
As part of a national effort to ensure the safe enjoyment of America's beaches, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today presented the Florida Department of Health a $544,552 beach monitoring grant to help make Florida's beaches safer, cleaner and more enjoyable. The Grant will be used to monitor beach water quality, issue timely warnings or closures, and protect public health.

"One of the most effective tools we have to ensure continuous improvement in water quality is monitoring water quality on an ongoing basis," Whitman said. "That is why EPA is making these grants available across the nation to help state and local governments keep closer track of ocean water quality at beaches. These funds will help ensure that a day at the beach is a day to remember for all the right reasons - the warm sun, the salt air, the sand in your shoes, and the refreshing brace of the water."

A total of about $10 million is available in 2003 to help 35 states and territories improve their water testing and public notification. Nationwide, beach grants to states vary from $149,025 to $544,552. The grants are based on criteria including the length of beach season, the miles of beaches and the number of people using those beaches.

State and local monitoring and notification programs often differ across the country and provide varying levels of swimmer protection . EPA Beach Grants are intended to ensure that the public receives better protection when traveling to various beaches across the country. The program is authorized by the the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) of 2002. EPA estimates that Americans make a total of 910 million trips to coastal areas each year, spending about $44 billion.