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State funding granted for E. coli research

News Dispatch
08/22/2002

Save the Dunes Conservation Fund (SDCF), Indiana University Northwest and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program are partnering to develop an E. coli beach monitoring and notification plan for Indiana’s portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has contracted with the organizations, who are receiving federal funds through the state, to develop the plan in response to the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act requirements. The Interagency E. coli Task Force, which includes state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, academic institutions and interested citizens, will guide this process to completion.

The BEACH Act was passed by Congress in October 2000 in order to “reduce the risk of disease to users of the nation’s recreational waters.” The legislation, which amended the federal Clean Water Act, requires states to adopt new or revised water quality standards by April 10, 2004.

It also requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to further study health effects of disease-causing pathogens. The Act authorizes EPA to award grants to states to develop and implement a program for monitoring and assessing coastal recreation waters, which include the Great Lakes, for pathogens and pathogen indicators.

“This grant will enable us to take important steps toward protecting the health of the over 1.7 million people who enjoy Indiana’s Lake Michigan beaches during the summer months,” says SDCF Director Sandra L. Wilmore. Lake, Porter and LaPorte county beaches are regularly tested for E. coli, a bacteria found in human and animal waste that is used to indicate fecal contamination.

The goals of the Indiana BEACH Act grant are to establish a more consistent monitoring plan and to improve notification of beach closings and advisories to beach-goers. The partnering organizations will evaluate, prioritize, and classify Indiana’s Lake Michigan beaches and other public points of access to coastal waters according to health risk.

The beach monitoring and notification plan must meet performance criteria published by EPA in order for Indiana to be eligible for the grant. These criteria include evaluation and classification, monitoring, public notification and prompt risk communication, and public evaluation. Although the BEACH Act does not mandate testing of coastal waters, it provides funds for developing and expanding such testing.

“In the spring of 2003, the public can expect to find a Web site through the Sea Grant server that provides up-to-date, critical information about beaches and beach closings in Indiana,” said Leslie Dorworth, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant aquatic ecology specialist.

E. coli Task Force information can be reached at the Dept. of Natural Resources Web site: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/lakemich/ecoli/index.html

Other Contacts:

Leslie. E. Dorworth, Aquatic Ecologist

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program

dorworth@nwi.calumet.purdue.edu (219) 989-2726

Ellen Szarleta

School of Public and Environmental Affairs

eszarlet@iun.edu (219) 980-6698

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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