Beach Protection Act of 2007

This proposed legislation amends the BEACH Act (see below) by authorizing funding for water quality grants until the year 2012. Two different forms of the proposed legislation (H.R. 2537 & S. 1506) have been introduced in Congress. The Senate version, S. 1506, authorizes the funding level to $60 million, whereas the House version, H.R. 2537, authorizes the funding at only $40 million.

The Beach Protection Act sets up provisions to require the EPA to approve the use of rapid testing methods, implement beach water pollution source identification and tracking, develop an online database for each state, and require any closures or advisories to be issued within 24 hours.

Rhode Island's beach monitoring program would definitely benefit from the increased funding available through the proposed Beach Protection Act.  Additional funding resources would allow more frequent testing at local beaches, as well as more pollution source tracking and identification.

Save The Bay commends Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for his co-sponsorship of S. 1506: Beach Protection Act of 2007 and applauds his efforts to recognize public health at our local beaches.

BEACH Act of 2000

In 2000, Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act and brought national recognition to the public's health at our local beaches.  The overall goals of the BEACH Act were to set national water quality standards, standardize beach water quality monitoring, and provide the public with timely information concerning the status and health of the beaches. 

This federal law was authorized at $30 million, however, up to this point, no annual appropriation has exceeded $10 million.  In 2008, $9.75 million will be available to help support states with their local water quality monitoring, down from $9.9 million in 2007.  Rhode Island received a federal BEACH Act grant in 2006 and again in 2007 for just over $212,000 to support their water quality monitoring program.

Currently, states are only allowed to use EPA-approved water quality testing methods; usually these methods cause a delay of at least 24 hours to produce results. This delay puts the public's health at risk and often forces beach managers to preemptively close the beach.