Beach water quality just took a major hit, with the Environmental Protection Agency announcing its plan to eliminate federal funds for testing water contamination.
The plan would cut $10 million in grants the EPA gives each year to state and local agencies in coastal and Great Lakes states to test for tainted water.
“It feels like a double whammy to beachgoers,” Kirsten James, Heal the Bay's water quality directortold the Los Angeles Times. “The EPA is on multiple levels telling them they are swimming at their own risk every time they go to the beach."
According to the Times story, "the grants slated for elimination pay for local health and environmental protection agencies to conduct water quality tests and post warning signs or even close the beach when bacteria levels indicate the water is too contaminated. Swimming in polluted water exposes people to pathogens that can can cause gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes and ear, eye and staph infections."
California is eligible for about $500,000 each year.
This announcement comes on the heels of the EPA's December announcement that it was weakening its criteria for judging the acceptable risk of illness. Under the proposal, it would be OK if 1 in 28 swimmers got sick from swimming at a beach.
There's still time to voice your concern to the EPA about their new budget and pollution criteria proposals.