Federal Funds for Delaware Beach Safety, EPA Awards DNREC Over $200,000 to Protect Public Health at State’s Beaches

GEORGETOWN, DE – Delaware will receive over $200,000 in federal funds to monitor water quality at state beaches, Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper announced today. The grant, awarded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, marks some of the first funds awarded for public beach safety since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) in October 2000. “Each year, more than 5 million people visit Delaware’s beaches, contributing more than $500 million to our state’s economy. The condition of our beaches is key in seeing these visitors return year after year,” said Senator Biden. “It is extremely important that the federal government does its part to help Delaware protect our coastal waters and notify the public whenever any water safety concerns arise.” The BEACH Act allocates federal funds to protect swimmers from unhealthy water conditions. States can use the grants to develop programs that monitor water quality at their beaches and to notify the public when water quality problems are detected. The EPA has awarded DNREC $211,339 to augment the state’s water monitoring program. “For their health and safety, swimmers need to know the water is clean. Swimmable surf at Delaware’s beaches is important to our families and our state’s economy,” Carper said. “Updating our notification system will provide increased swimmer protection.” The grants were awarded based on criteria that included the length of the beach season, the miles of beach and the number of people using the beach. Delaware beaches stretch across 24.5 miles and enjoy millions of vacationers each year. Visitors contribute significantly to the state’s travel industry net of over $850 million a year. “The money will be used to augment the state wide program which covers our ocean coast, 25 miles of our Delaware Bay Coast, our inland bays and our freshwater ponds,” said Jack Pingree, DNREC’s Shellfish and Recreational Water Branch Program Manager. “In particular, we are excited about our enhanced monitoring efforts in the inland bays. The funding awarded by the EPA is for use in fiscal year 2002. Additionally, Congress has authorized the EPA to issue additional funds that support water quality monitoring and notification over the next five years. Currently, information about swimming advisories during the summer season can be heard by calling DNREC’s toll-free, 24-hour “Beach Hotline” at 1-800-922-WAVE. Additional information can be found by accessing DNREC’s website at http://www.dnrec.com