No Money for Beach Programs in 2014 Budget
As coastal advocates take a closer look at the President’s recent federal budget proposals, there’s not much to like. The folks at Surfrider Foundation, for example, point out today that the budget zeroes out the EPA’s Beach Grant Program, which supplies already-miniscule funding to state entities for water quality monitoring and public notification programs at our nation’s beaches. Beach pollution is a serious public health problem for beachgoers and a major threat to coastal economies that rely on beach visitors.
The public health cost of gastrointestinal illnesses caused by swimming at polluted beaches has been estimated at $21 – $51 million in LA and Orange Counties alone. Expand that cost to cover the entire US coast, and take away much of the water testing information that we have available to us today as is proposed by the President’s budget, and that number will be astronomical. In comparison, $10 million spread out among 35 coastal states and territories seems to be a small and wise investment to protect the over 100 million visitors to US beaches every year.
The President’s budget is not the same as a Congressional appropriation, so there is still a chance that Congress will restore the funding. But they won’t do it without significant public pressure. Therefore, anyone interested in clean beaches and safe water should contact their U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and ask that the funding be restored. (In fact, Surfrider makes it very easy to do so here.)