EPA officials announced Monday the agency will award $9.6 million in grants to states, tribes and territories to monitor beach water for bacteria.
The funds will also be used to develop programs to notify both the agency and the public about water quality, officials said. Four tribes will collaborate with the EPA in carrying out the programs: the Swinomish, Makah, the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, each of which are set to receive $50,000.
“Strong partnerships are essential to protecting public health and the environment,” EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox said in a statement. “With this funding, EPA’s partners can improve water quality monitoring efforts to better protect health and wellness.”
“When bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach,” the EPA said in a statement. “The grants help local authorities monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming.”
The $9.6 million marks an increase from fiscal 2020 and 2019, when the EPA awarded $9.23 million for the program. Thirty states and five territories are eligible for the funds along with the four tribes.
Although the program has operated since 2001 and awarded more than $195 million in grants, the 2021 announcement comes as the Biden administration has emphasized improvements to water monitoring and a particular focus on environmental issues that disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities.