The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has pledged $9.8 million in grants to 38 states, territories and tribes to “help protect the health of swimmers at America’s beaches.” The amount of each grant ranges from $150,000 to $516,000, with Florida receiving the heftiest grant of any state (.pdf).

The majority of beach advisories and closures in the United States are due to water test results indicating bacterial contamination, which comes from a variety of sources, including sewer overflows, untreated stormwater runoff, boat waste, wildlife and pet waste, and malfunctioning septic systems.

According to a press release, the grants will go toward helping local authorities “monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming.”

This is the 12th year that EPA has provided beach grant funds, bringing the total amount the agency has made available to nearly $111 million.

In addition to pledging nearly $10 million for beach cleanup, the agency also launched an improved website for beach advisories and closings, which includes up-to-date water quality and pollution testing information for more than 6,000 U.S. beaches.

According to the BEACH (Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000) Act, the EPA has the authority to give a grant to a local government to implement a monitoring and notification program, but “only if the Agency finds that the state is not implementing a program that meets the requirements of the Act.”

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