06 • 29 • 2021

President’s Budget Proposes Record Funding for Clean Water and Healthy Beaches

By Katie Day

Last month, President Biden released the FY 2022 budget proposal for the federal government. This kicks off the annual budget appropriation process that Congress will eventually finalize later this year. Surfrider is pleased to see record funding for NOAA and EPA in the Biden administration’s proposal, including support for funding our clean water priority, the EPA BEACH Grants program, for the first time in nine years!

Critical federal programs administered by these agencies protect the health of swimmers and other beachgoers and help coastal communities prepare for extreme weather. Ensuring that these programs are adequately funded is essential to the mission of the Surfrider Foundation and our supporters. Some highlights of the funding plan are outlined below. While many of these proposed funding levels are good news for our coasts and ocean, some program levels (i.e., clean water infrastructure) are still lacking sufficient investment. 

Moreover, Congress will need to include these recommendations in its FY 2022 budget bill for the funding increases to take effect. This underscores the need for continued grassroots outreach to federal representatives on these priorities!

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Unlike the years of the Trump Administration, President Biden’s budget proposes increasing funding for the EPA to $11.233 billion, providing much needed funding for important EPA programs that fund beach water quality testing, water quality protection and restoration, and nonpoint source pollution reductions. Specifically, it calls for:

  • $9.8 Million to the BEACH Act Grants Program- Authorized at $30 million dollars per year, this critical beach water quality testing and public health program has never gotten close to receiving that level of funding. Each year Surfrider and our supporters reach out to Congress and encourage a minimum of $10 million to the BEACH Act. While still short of the $10 million goal, this is the first time a president hasn't attempted to zero out funding for this program in nine years!

  • $579 Million to Geographic Programs Grants- This program provides regional grants that help fund habitat restoration and water quality protection efforts in critical watersheds and bays across the US, including in the Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, South Florida Everglades and more.

  • $30 Million to US/Mexico Border Infrastructure- At level funding to last year, this program would help address severe cross boundary water quality pollution, threatening the health of communities on both sides of the border. Our hope is that Congress elevates this funding level to $75 million to adequately address the crisis at the border.

  • $1.87 Billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)- A funding priority for the Surfrider Foundation, the CWSRF provides funding for wastewater infrastructure improvements. Our current wastewater infrastructure is backlogged at over $270 billion, fueling sewage and stormwater pollution at the beach. While this increase from last year is welcomed, we need much higher funding levels, such as those outlined in HR 1915, Rep. Defazio’s Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, authorizing this program at $8 billion/year. Learn more here.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)

NOAA is the lead federal agency responsible for managing our nation's ocean and coasts, as well as monitoring weather and climate. Our priority is funding for NOAA coastal management, national marine sanctuaries, estuary reserves, Sea Grant and coastal resilience programs that go to the heart of Surfrider's mission. President Biden’s proposal includes a record $6.9 billion for NOAA, with increases for many key coastal management and climate change programs, including:

  • Nearly $65 Million to Coastal Zone Management and Services- This program ensures that our nation's coasts are managed in partnership with states, tribes, and communities to protect vital resources for public use and enjoyment

  • $108.5 Million to Coastal Resilience Management Grants- An increase of $20 million over last year’s levels, this funding would provide essential support to communities and coastlines enhancing their resilience to exacerbated coastal storms and hazards.

  • $115.7 Million to National Sea Grant College Program- Over $7 million over last year’s level, this program funds important educational opportunities that support important scientific research of our ocean and coasts, especially in regards to severe weather and impacts from climate change.

  • $42.5 Million to National Estuary Research Reserve- This program helps fund our nation’s estuaries, which provide essential coastal protection benefits, from alleviating flooding and storm surge, to sequestering carbon emissions and providing wildlife habitat for local and migrating species. 

Surfrider's goal is to ensure that Congress includes such proposed funding increases in its final FY 22 budget appropriations bill. Learn more about Surfrider’s federal advocacy work and how you can take action here.