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Water: Beaches

Clean Beaches Plan

In 1996, over 2,500 beaches in the United States were posted with warnings or closed for at least one day because the water was contaminated. Today, many beaches are either not monitored well or not monitored at all, so Americans continue to face risks of illness from swimming and other activities in coastal areas, lakes, and rivers that contain disease-causing microbes.

On Wednesday, April 20, 2004, we announced the Administration's Clean Beaches strategy. The strategy includes, among other things, a Clean Beaches Plan.

By carrying out the Clean Beaches Plan, we are helping state, tribal, and local beach managers strengthen their programs. A strategy for reducing the risks of infection to people who use our recreational waters, the Plan recognizes that beach managers need tools that allow for local and regional differences in pollution sources and climate. The Clean Beaches Plan describes what we plan to do over the next couple of years to achieve two major goals: promote recreational water quality programs nationwide and create scientific improvements that support timely recreational water monitoring and reporting.

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Please contact Rich Healy (healy.richard@epa.gov) for section 508 accessible letters.

Actions and activities

Completed and Ongoing Milestones for the Clean Beaches Plan
Activity Description Target Date
Letters to States Letters to states and territories reiterating BEACH Act requirement to adopt criteria as protective as EPA's current criteria, and describing EPA's planned actions to make sure protective standards are in place Completed
List of Beaches Updated list of beaches on coastal and Great Lakes waters including identification of beaches subject to a monitoring and notification program. Required by the BEACH Act. Completed
Grants Availability Annual grants to states, tribes and territories to develop and implement a beach monitoring and notification program to give public information about health conditions at beaches Completed
Proposed Bacteria Rule EPA no longer updates the information at this link, but it may be useful as a reference or resource. Statute requires states and territories to adopt criteria as protective of health as EPA's current pathogen criteria by April 10, 2004. If not, EPA must promptly propose water quality standards Completed
Final Bacteria Rule EPA issued a final rule establishing national bacteria standards Completed
Bacteria Implementation Guidance As needed, additional guidance for implementing EPA's 1986 pathogen criteria in water quality standards, beach, TMDL, and permitting programs Two fact sheets completed
2005 Beach Report Updated report on beach closings and advisories during 2005 calendar year Completed
2006 National Beach Conference Meeting of state beach program leaders to exchange information and learn from each others' successes. Completed
Final Report to Congress Report on progress of BEACH Act implementation, required by statute Completed
Epidemiological Studies Completed four studies in the Great Lakes to develop better pathogen indicators of illnesses at beaches (starting first marine study in 2005). Multi-year effort required by the BEACH Act conducted by EPA's Office of Research and Development. Ongoing
New Pathogen Criterion Development of new water quality criteria for protection of swimmers, based on epidemiological studies. Required by BEACH Act Ongoing

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Map of States and Territories covered under the BEACH Act

Map of coastal recreation waters (PDF) (94 K, 1 pp) as defined by Clean Water Act Section 502, as amended by the BEACH Act.

Agency Contact

Richard Healy (healy.richard@epa.gov); 202-566-0405

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Related References

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