WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH-14), David Rouzer (R-NC-07), Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), and Emilia Sykes (D-OH-13) reintroduced the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act. The funding provided through this bill helps state and local governments test, monitor, and identify contamination in recreational waters, such as the Great Lakes.
“Every year, Ohio families and tourists across the country flock to the Great Lakes to enjoy the beaches, spurring economic growth in the region,” said Congressman Joyce. “The BEACH Act ensures that beaches and the surrounding waters remain clean and safe for generations to come. I encourage my colleagues in Congress to advance this legislation to protect our natural treasures.”
“North Carolina’s Seventh District is fortunate to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the country which provide significant recreational and economic benefits for our coastal communities,” said Congressman Rouzer. “I’m proud to support the bipartisan BEACH Act to keep our coastal recreational waters clean and safe for all who live and vacation in Southeastern North Carolina.”
“Every summer, New Jerseyans and visitors flock to the Jersey Shore, so I’m proud to join this bipartisan bill that will help protect public health and give beachgoers the peace of mind they deserve,” said Congressman Pallone. “New Jersey’s beaches are a treasure, and this bill will help make sure they remain clean and safe by improving our current water quality monitoring system and giving states and communities greater flexibility to use grants in a way that best addresses local conditions. I’m grateful for my House colleagues who share my concern for healthy coastal water, and I look forward to getting the bill across the finish line.”
“Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s most prized natural resources, supporting industries, agriculture, and tourism throughout Northeast Ohio,” said Congresswoman Sykes. “I’m grateful to partner with Reps. Joyce and Pallone on the bipartisan BEACH Act to improve our water quality monitoring systems to ensure Lake Erie is kept clean and safe for the people of Ohio’s 13th District to enjoy.”
The BEACH Act was established in 2000 to require EPA to develop guidelines for testing, monitoring, and notifying public users of possible coastal recreation water problems, such as contamination, and provides grant funding to state, local, and tribal governments to protect beachgoers from contaminated water at coastal beaches, including the Great Lakes. Funding is used to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs.
This bill reauthorizes the BEACH Act program at $30 million for FY2024 – FY2028, which retains the previously authorized level, and expands eligible uses of BEACH Act grants to include identification of sources of contamination. BEACH Act funds are currently eligible to be used for the monitoring and notification of contamination, but not identification of sources. Adding identification of sources as an eligible use of funds will help address the root causes of a contamination issue that BEACH Actfunds are already being used to monitor.
The legislation also expands the eligible testing locations to include shallow recreational waters adjacent to beaches where and elderly typically play and swim at the beach, and therefore are more at-risk for contamination.
“Since its introduction back in 2000, the BEACH Act has been instrumental in standardizing public health protections at beaches across the U.S. and safeguarding our multi-billion dollar coastal recreation and tourism economies,” attests Mara Dias, Water Quality Initiative Senior Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “This new bill will provide the support and flexibility necessary for states to monitor their beaches where public health is most at risk from polluted water.”
“ASBPA is proud to support reauthorization of the BEACH Act,” said Annie Mercer, Blue Flag Program Coordinator for the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association. “I applaud Representatives Pallone, Joyce, Rouser, and Sykes for prioritizing this national policy to empower coastal communities’ with information needed to elevate water quality at their beaches.”
“Our waters should be safe for swimming, yet all too often pathogens from pollution put our health at risk,” said John Rumpler, Clean Water Director for Environment America. “BEACH Act data has been vital to documenting this problem, and today’s bipartisan bill will also allow states to better identify ways to solve it.”
“For over two decades the BEACH Act has helped keep swimmers healthy and safe every summer. This reauthorization helps ensure beachgoers will be notified quickly as possible if water is unsafe to swim in, and gives coastal states and communities greater flexibility to identify and address sources contamination,” said Derek Brockbank, Executive Director of Coastal States Organization.
Read the full text of the bill here.