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In the Heat of Beach Season, EPA Provides Major Funding to Monitor and Improve Quality of Rhode Island Coastline

Release Date: 07/14/2006
Contact Information: Dave Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Narragansett, R.I. – July 14, 2006) - Governor Donald L. Carcieri and the Rhode Island Dept. of Public Health accepted a $212,640 check today from EPA’s “It’s a Shore Thing” Campaign to ensure healthy water quality at New England beaches.

In five years the EPA campaign has spread across New England coastlines to improve and expand water quality monitoring and public notification programs. Since 2002, EPA has awarded Rhode Island more than $1.1 million to support and expand the state's beach monitoring programs – helping to ensure that the public can enjoy their beautiful beaches and swim in clean ocean water.

“This is a great day for ensuring cleaner and healthier beaches in Rhode Island,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA’s grant for clean beaches will help the state to continue its strong, effective beach monitoring program that protects peoples’ health.”

The progress over the past decade to clean beaches in Rhode Island has been significant. In 1994 a mere 165 water samples were collected from 16 freshwater and 28 saltwater beaches. Between 2001 and 2002, with the help of the Federal Beach Act, 67 saltwater beach locations were tested through an additional 800 water samples. In 2004 a total of 2,700 samples were taken from 118 locations.

Over the past five summers EPA New England has awarded nearly $5 million to the region’s five coastal states, with nearly $1.15 million added to that figure this year.

EPA has designated eleven ‘flagship beaches’ throughout the five coastal New England states. These beaches were chosen to act as models for beach managers based upon several criteria: serving large populations, a history of beach closures due to pollution, high quality monitoring already in place, and a strong potential for state and federal resources to be effective. Rhode Island's flagship sites are Goddard Memorial State Park, Warwick; Warren Town Beach and Scarborough State Beach.

Storm water runoff and untreated sewage released into bodies of water contains bacteria, viruses and protozoans; some of which can cause minor illnesses such as gastroenteritis or more serious diseases such as hepatitis. Runoff can be contaminated through pet waste, wildlife, oil from roads, illicit connections and various other sources. Untreated sewage can find its way from leaking sewer pipes, failing septic systems, boats and combined sewer overflows.

More information on EPA New England’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative (

Specific information regarding water quality conditions at Rhode Island beaches ( from the Rhode Island Dept. of Health

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