Hampton Beach, NH – As the long-anticipated New Hampshire summer beach season begins, EPA officials presented $204,530 in new funding to help ensure that NH beaches have robust monitoring conducted to evaluate water quality while people enjoy the warm weather by the coast.
The funding is used by the NH Dept. of Environmental Services (NHDES) to improve and expand the water quality monitoring and public notification programs at state coastal beaches.
"EPA’s beach protection program is helping to protect New Hampshire’s beaches, which is good for people's health and also helps local economies," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Clean and healthy beaches make an inviting destination for visitors to come to the shore and enjoy the sun, surf and shops."
Over the past six years, EPA has provided over $6 million to New England states and nearly $1.1 million to New Hampshire alone, under the Congressionally-mandated Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act. This program helps states with shorelines along the nation’s coasts or around the Great Lakes to develop and maintain programs to test water quality and other environmental conditions at beaches, and provide public notice if unhealthy levels of bacteria or other contamination is present.
The EPA funding was made available through EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative, which is making $1.14 million available this summer to the region’s five coastal states.
"New Hampshire prides itself with its clean coastal water," added Michael Nolin, Commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services. "People from all over New England are drawn to the region’s coastal beaches. Whether for simple sunbathing or for swimming, boating, or fishing, we all enjoy the aesthetic qualities of the ocean. This EPA beach grant provides New Hampshire with the ability to maintain and increase our water quality monitoring capabilities, providing for an elevated level of public health protection so we can all continue to enjoy our coastal waters."
With six years of funding, and a lot of hard work, beach monitoring and notification is expanding significantly in New Hampshire. In 2001, only nine of the 16 coastal beaches in the State were routinely monitored, and public notification was also limited. Now, fully 15 of the 16 coastal beaches are monitored regularly, with the remaining beach on Star Island not monitored because of its remote location and low use.
Because of EPA’s commitment to clean water, the number of beaches monitored has more than tripled nationwide in the past decade. Beach water monitoring helps identify what needs to be done - such as warnings and more importantly, actions to prevent closings - when bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels. EPA is also developing new technologies to yield faster test results. With the new tests, local health agencies will be able to act more quickly if a beach has to be closed for swimming.
Additionally, as part of its public-awareness efforts, EPA has created an interactive Web site for kids that includes games, information on how to protect beaches and beach safety.
- More information about EPA’s Clean New England Beaches Initiative (epa.gov/ne/eco/beaches/)
- Information about swimming conditions at New Hampshire beaches ( www.des.nh.gov)
- Great EPA beach Web site for kids: (epa.gov/beaches/kids/)