Health of millions of Americans at risk with proposed elimination of BEACH Act grants funding

May 10 2018

Today, the Surfrider Foundation announced that more than 100 organizations have signed on to a letter to urge Congress to restore funding for the EPA BEACH Act grants program, which protects millions of beachgoers annually. The program was completely eliminated in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, threatening the health of surfers, swimmers, recreationists and families at the beach. 

The EPA BEACH Act grants program serves as the main source of funding for water quality testing and public health protection programs at beaches across the U.S. Coastal communities rely on this support to identify where it is safe to swim, surf or play at the beach. First implemented in 2000, the Surfrider Foundation was one of the driving forces behind the passage of the BEACH Act to ensure effective water quality standards nationwide. 

“The current proposal to eliminate the BEACH Grants Program not only will leave beachgoers and recreational water users at risk of being exposed to bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that make people sick, but it also puts the booming, multi-billion dollar coastal tourism economies that depend on public confidence in clean water at the beach at risk,” the group letter states.

Coastal tourism and recreation, which depend on clean water and healthy beaches, are valued at more than $100 billion by the National Ocean and Economics Program, accounting for nearly 2.15 million jobs nationwide. Underfunding or the elimination of the program means that state and local beach programs will not have the resources they need to provide adequate coverage of beaches, leaving beachgoers, tourism and recreation industries at risk. 

The group letter follows action taken by Congressional leaders to save this critical public health program. On April 26th, a letter signed by 28 Senators was submitted to appropriators urging them to reject the administration’s proposal to eliminate the program and allocate level funding to support beach water testing programs. A similar letter, signed by 25 members, was submitted in the House of Representatives earlier in March.

“No family should have to worry that a fun day at the beach could end up making them sick,” said Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who has introduced legislation to reauthorize the BEACH Act and is leading the call to protect the grants. “We need to make clear that our country can’t afford to put at risk our booming coastal recreation and tourism economies that depend on public confidence in safe and healthy beaches.”

For more information or to take action, visit Surfrider.org

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About the Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 500,000 supporters, activists and members, with more than 160 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 450 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at surfrider.org.