03 • 28 • 2020

Beach Water Testing Programs Protect Public Health

By Mara Dias

Surfrider is fighting to save federal funding for beach water quality testing to protect public health. Join us in asking Congress to reject the budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration. 

The Surfrider Foundation’s mission is the protection and enjoyment of our ocean, waves and beaches through a large activist network. We believe that everyone deserves access to clean water to surf, swim and play in. This is why we have been staunch advocates for the BEACH Act since it passed 20 years ago. The BEACH Act established water quality criteria to protect public health in recreational waters. It also established national guidelines for beach water quality monitoring programs, as well as a grant programs administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support these state and local programs.

The BEACH Act Grants program provides nearly $10 million to help 35 coastal states and territories run their beach water testing programs and to notify beachgoers when pollution levels threaten public health. Most coastal states rely almost entirely on this federal grant program to fund their monitoring programs that protect the health of over 100 million visitors to U.S. beaches every year. Click here to view advisories and check water quality conditions in your state.

Unfortunately, funding for this critical public health program has been on the chopping block for several years running, and worse, the entire EPA agency is currently facing a 26.5% budget cut in the FY 2021 budget proposed by the Trump administration. The good news is there are staunch supporters of clean water and healthy beaches in Congress that are willing to push back against these budget cuts. Senators Merkley (OR) and Menendez (NJ) submitted a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on behalf of 29 offices requesting $10 million in funding for the EPA BEACH Grants program in the FY 2021 budget. Likewise, Representative Pallone (NJ) led a similar effort in the House of Representatives with 33 offices signing on. View the letters and see who signed on here: Senate & House. Thank you to these coastal defenders for being willing to #StandUpforCleanWater!

Join us in asking your representatives in Congress to likewise reject the budget cuts that the Trump administration has proposed for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in the FY 2021 budget. These agencies carry out critical programs that protect the health of beachgoers, manage coastal resources and help communities adapt to rising sea levels. Without sufficient funding, neither agency will be able to effectively protect our health or our coastal environment. Take Action and send your email to Congress here.

Watch this short video that features the seasonal beach program, funded through the BEACH Act, that is run by the WA State Department of Ecology with the help of citizen scientists like our Blue Water Task Force volunteers.