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About the BEACH Act

On October 10, 2000, the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) was signed into law, amending the Clean Water Act (CWA). The BEACH Act required EPA to develop performance criteria for testing, monitoring, and notifying public users of possible coastal recreation water problems.


The BEACH Act

Map showing states, territories and tribes covered by BEACH Act: AL, AK, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI, AS, GU, NP, PR, VI, Grand Portage Chippewa, Bad River Chippewa, Makah

The BEACH Act addresses pathogens and pathogen indicators in coastal recreation waters, and it contains four significant provisions, summarized as follows:

  • The BEACH Act amended the CWA by adding section 303(i), which requires states, territories, and tribes that have coastal recreation waters to adopt new or revised water quality standards by April 10, 2004, for pathogens and pathogen indicators for which EPA has published criteria under CWA section 304(a).
     
  • The BEACH Act amended the CWA by adding sections 104(v) and 304(a), which together require EPA to conduct studies associated with pathogens and human health and to publish new or revised CWA section 304(a) criteria for pathogens and pathogen indicators based on those studies.
     
  • Under section 303(i)(1)(B), states, territories, or tribes, that have coastal recreation waters are directed to adopt new or revised water quality standards for all pathogens and pathogen indicators to which EPA’s new or revised section 304(a) criteria are applicable by not later than three years after EPA’s publication of the new or revised section 304(a) criteria.
     
  • The Act amended the CWA to add section 406, which authorizes EPA to award grants to states, territories, tribes, or local governments to develop and implement beach monitoring and assessment programs.
     
  • BEACH Act (2000)

Coastal Recreation Waters Defined

The BEACH Act defines coastal recreation waters as the Great Lakes and marine coastal waters (including coastal estuaries) that states, territories, and tribes designate in their water quality standards for use for swimming, bathing, surfing, or similar water contact activities.

The BEACH Act Grant Program

EPA provides grants to states, territories, tribes and local governments to protect beachgoers from contaminated water at coastal beaches including the Great Lakes. Grant funds are used to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs.

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