Seeking Federal Funds to Help Clean Qns. Beaches

Will Boost Bacteria Monitoring Pgms.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced his push to restore $9.9 million in Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act grant funding toward monitoring of water quality and pollution to ensure waters are safe for swimming.

This funding is critical in the effort by New York City to help keep swimmers safe by monitoring and testing water, particularly at the four beaches that were reported to have high bacteria levels by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Schumer said that New York City received approximately $30,000-worth of this grant funding in 2013, which is critical to monitoring beaches, as well as ensuring that the costs of doing so are not passed on to the municipality and tax payer.

Schumer noted the Queens beaches that were recently found to have high contamination levels, and noted that federal funding contributed to their monitoring and detection. Three out of twelve Queens beaches, including Breezy Point-Reid Avenue, Douglaston Homeowners’ Association, and Whitestone Booster Civic Association, are currently listed on the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) compilation of beaches that have more than zero percent of samples exceeding Beach Action Values (BAV).

Douglaston has the highest of the three beaches with 46 percent of samples above the BAV threshold.

“Queens beaches are great resources that attract swimmers, fishers and boaters, and we simply cannot let federal funding for monitoring contamination and water quality be slashed,” said Schumer. “The upcoming budget unacceptably eliminates about $10 million in BEACH Act grant funding, which New York City has historically relied on to monitor and protect these beaches in Queens. This cannot stand and I am calling on Senate Appropriators to restore the $9.9 million BEACH Act so that Queens residents can rest assured that their beaches will be safe and that they will not be forced to cover the cost.”

The BEACH Act was enacted in 2000 and has since increased the frequency of water quality monitoring nationwide. Overall, BEACH Act grant funding helps state governments develop and implement programs to inform the public about the risk of bacteria in the water at beaches. Funds can be used for beach monitoring as well as public awareness of the problem. Swimming in polluted water can cause illness, skin rashes and other infections.

The number of monitored beaches more than tripled to over 3,600 in 2010.

Last year, New York State received $330,000 to help run their beach monitoring programs. Since the start of the program, New York State has received over $5 million to help fund beach monitoring programs. Specifically, New York City receives approximately $30,000 in BEACH funds.

Schumer explained that this funding would help New York City significantly improve its efforts to monitor water quality conditions and identify contamination in public waters in Queens.

Beach monitoring funding is critical. In Queens, Breezy Point- Reid Avenue, Douglaston Homeowners’ Association, and Whitestone Booster Civic Association’s beaches were tested under the BAV standard. According to NRDC most recent full-season data from 2013, results showed that Douglaston Homeowners’ Association had the highest bacterial levels of the three beaches, with 46 percent of samples above the BAV threshold. Breezy Point-Reid Avenue had 4 percent of samples that exceeded the BAV threshold, Whitestone Booster Civic Association had 16 percent of samples that exceeded the BAV threshold.

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