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Great Lakes Article:

EPA Awards Wisconsin $225,000 to Monitor State's Great Lakes Beaches
Press Release
Posted on US Newswire on June 7, 2005

To: State Desk, Environment Reporter

Contact: Phillippa Cannon of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, 312-353-6218

CHICAGO, June 7 /U.S. Newswire/ -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has awarded Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources $225,000 to monitor bacteria in water at beaches on Lakes Michigan and Superior. EPA is making almost $10 million in grants available nationwide to eligible states to protect public health at the nation's beaches.

"EPA congratulates Wisconsin on being the first state in the Great Lakes region to submit its grant application again this year, demonstrating its continued commitment to protecting the health of its citizens," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "Now in its fourth year, this grants program has enabled Wisconsin to substantially increase the number of Great Lakes beaches it monitors from six to 123."

The grant will help the state develop more efficient monitoring methods and provide timely information to the public about when it may not be safe to swim because of high levels of bacteria in the water. When bacteria levels are too high, there is a greater risk of people becoming sick and local beach managers post warnings or close the beach.

Congress passed the BEACH Act in October 2000. It authorizes EPA to award grants to help eligible states, tribes and territories monitor beaches on coastal waters including the Great Lakes. These grants also support programs to inform the public about the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms.

Wisconsin's public information program includes signs in English, Spanish and Hmong posted at beaches to notify the public whether coastal recreational waters are expected to meet water quality standards. To make up-to-date information on beach conditions easily available to the public, the state developed a statewide, toll-free telephone service, an automatic e-mail subscription service that provides daily updates on beach conditions, and a state beach health Web page ( http://www.wibeaches.us. ) It also set up an internal Web site for health departments to report their daily advisory and monitoring data in the format required by EPA.

DOOR COUNTY MONITORING

During the summer of 2004, Wisconsin used part of its BEACH grant to monitor 27 beaches in Door County, a popular tourist destination with 250 miles of shoreline and a large number of public beaches. The Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department leveraged the grant to acquire additional funding to pay samplers and analysts to monitor E. coli concentrations at selected beaches, near outfalls and after heavy rain. It also conducted DNA testing of about 1,000 samples of E. coli to determine whether it came from bird or human waste in order to better identify sources of beach water contamination.

For more information about the water quality at beaches, local protection programs and other beach-related activities, go to: http://www.epa.gov/beacheshttp://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches

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