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EPA Awards Grants for Cleaning Up Beaches

WASHINGTON (CN) - The EPA is making $10 million available to 37 eligible coastal and Great Lakes states, territories and tribes to monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming, especially bacterial outbreaks. The grants, which this year range from $86,000 to $531,000, are awarded under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act.

The EPA bases the grant amounts on a five point formula: beach season length; total miles of shoreline; beach miles; beach use. Florida tops the list of 35 states and territories that qualify for the grant, receiving $530,000, followed by California, which will receive $520,000.

"This program is instrumental in allowing beach monitoring through out the country and this money is fundamental to funding state beach monitoring programs." said Mark Gold, president of the San Diego based environmental group Heal the Bay. In addition, Gold says that "Most importantly the program provides for the public right to know the quality of the water at their beaches before they get in."

The EPA estimates that one-third of Americans visit coastal areas each year, supporting 28 million jobs worth more than $40 billion.

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