Thursday, July 30, 2009

Testing the Waters 2009: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

NRDC: NRDC's annual survey of water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches finds that pollution caused the number of beach closings and advisories to hit their fourth-highest level in the 19-year history of the report. The number of 2008 closing and advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches topped 20,000 for the fourth consecutive year, confirming that our nation's beaches continue to suffer from serious water pollution that puts swimmers at risk.

Aging and poorly designed sewage and stormwater systems hold much of the blame for beachwater pollution. Even in the relatively dry 2008 beach season, stormwater runoff contributed to two-thirds of the closing/advisory days in which a contamination source was reported. Unknown sources of pollution caused nearly 13,000 closing and advisory days.

Despite these statistics, promising developments could improve the state of water monitoring at U.S. beaches. As a result of legal pressure from NRDC, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to update its 20-year-old beachwater quality standards by 2012. The legal settlement requires EPA to:
  • Conduct new health studies and swimmer surveys.
  • Approve a water-testing method that will produce same-day results.
  • Protect beachgoers from a broader range of waterborne illnesses…

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