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EPA Awards $200,000 to Rhode Island in Beach Water Quality Monitoring Grants

06/07/2019
Contact Information: 
John Senn (senn.john@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1019

MIDDLETOWN, RI — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing $200,000 to the Rhode Island Department of Health to support beach water quality monitoring and public notification efforts throughout the state.

"Clean and healthy beaches are vital to the prosperity of numerous communities in Rhode Island and are critical to supporting local economies and ecosystems," said EPA New England acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "EPA's beach grants give our state partners across New England important resources to monitor water quality and provide information to the public."

The funding is part of $1,078,000 that EPA expects to award to five New England states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island—to fund beach programs.

Under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, EPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial and tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach. Since 2002, state and local governments, territories and tribes have used nearly $167 million in EPA BEACH Act grants to monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources, and report results of monitoring and notification activities to EPA.

As part of EPA's efforts to better protect Americans who plan to swim and play in or near the water the summer, the agency recently issued recommendations for water quality criteria and swimming advisory values for two cyanotoxins. Algal blooms caused by cyanobacteria sometimes produce cyanotoxins that can be harmful to people recreating in or on the water when present above certain concentrations. EPA's recommendations are available for states to consider if they develop water quality standards or local swimming advisories for cyanotoxins. EPA also released infographics that states and communities can use to communicate basic information about harmful algal blooms (HABs) to the public. States, tribes and waterbody managers can download handout- and poster-sized infographic files, along with instructions on how to add local contact information, from EPA's newly refreshed Cyanobacterial HABs website.

For specific information on grants under the BEACH Act, grant guidance, and contact information for state and local beach programs, visit www.epa.gov/beach-tech/beach-grants.

To check on the latest closings and advisories at particular beaches, the public should contact the relevant state, tribal or territorial beach program listed at www.epa.gov/beaches/state-territorial-tribal-and-epa-beach-program-contacts.