EPA will fund water quality monitoring in Alaska

A fishing vessel in Orca Inlet. (June 5, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to award grants totaling $160.670 to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to develop and implement beach monitoring programs to ensure against bacteria and local pollution sources.

EPA’s 2022 Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act grant funding, contingent upon meeting the eligibility requirements, also includes $246.360 for Oregon, $292,415 for Washington and $53,555 for the Swinomish Indian Tribal community, the EPA said.

The agency has overall used nearly $206 million in BEACH Act grants to protect beachgoers by monitoring beaches for bacteria, maintaining and operating public notification systems, identifying local pollution sources, and reporting results to EPA.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox noted the important of clean safe water to public health the economy and community well-being.

“Without clean water, families can’t enjoy outdoor activities like a day at the beach,” Fox said. “With this grant funding, EPA is helping states, territories, and tribes fund water quality monitoring programs to ensure that water is clean for swimming and recreation and to protect public health.”

Under BEACHES, EPA awards grants to eligible state, territorial and tribal applicants to help them and their local government partners monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. When bacteria levels are too high for safe swimming, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach.