October 30, 2011
A big concern regarding the coastal states of western and eastern United States has been should federal oversight of beach safety be ramped up? Our belief is no. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States already granted $10 million directly to states to improve monitoring technology as well as facilitate beach clean-ups where necessary. We believe the states that border the coastal oceans and the Great Lakes are responsible for keeping those areas clean and safe for recreational use by the public. Using data and modern technology to assess whether the Beach is safe is crucial to determining whether or not the beach should be shut down or not. However, this does come with a heavy financial burden. That is why measures such as the BEACH Act of 2000 and the November 8th FInal Rule, which were put into place to safeguard against FIBs (Fecal Indicator Bacteria) and other bacteria in the water, are so important.
With strict federal measures already in place, the state has the guidelines that it must follow in order to uphold quality beaches and lakes. Because the 1986 Criteria for measuring bacteria had been updated by the EPA, state legislature should follow the amendments explicitly, in order to maintain a safety standard for the public by notifying them of possible health concerns. By informing the public when the ocean water is not safe, the state avoids legal complications from sick people and also better informs the public of the risks associated with going into the ocean on a particular day. Since the new measure have been enacted, the number of beach closures has slowly decreased in correlation with the number of beaches being monitored.
This means that the measures of AB 411 and the BEACH Act of 2000 have been effectively improving the monitoring and clean up of the coastal waters and lakes. With this data, we do not support further federal oversight of the states to maintain cleaner beaches. Although it would be excellent to have cleaner and stricter policy, we believe that it is the state’s job to maintain its own beaches and property for the health and safety of its citizens. Along with the financial support the government provides to improve monitoring and to clean up of the beaches, they also give grants for beach-research and health studies to determine the impacts of harmful bacteria and microorganisms on human health. This research and data will further help the states determine which beaches to shut down or not. This will potentially help save the state millions of dollars per year because it will lead to less beach closures and more money spent by tourists.
Overall, we find that the states and local governments are doing the best they can to provide the public quality access to the recreational waters they use. For, it is in the state’s best interest to keep up and maintain a resource that it makes millions of dollars off of from tourism. With the already strict policies, regulations, and sufficient funding, the states are in an excellent position to take care of and maintain safe and clean beaches for the public to enjoy.
About the authors: Sherwood Egbert and Matt Goldberg are working towards their bachelor degrees in the USC Dornsife Environmental Studies Program.