Beach closed: no funding, no fun

The 2015 US federal budget proposes to eliminate all funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Beach Act grant program that supports water-testing programs at beaches around the country.

Surfers and swimmers will be left at risk of contracting waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea, nausea, ear and eye infections and skin rashes, if beach programs run out of funds.

"Can you imagine if we no longer maintained food safety standards in the U.S.? That is what the Obama administration is proposing for our oceans," explains Chad Nelsen, environmental director at Surfrider Foundation.

"By eliminating funding for Beach Act grants, basic ocean monitoring to determine if it is safe to swim or surf will become a thing of the past."

When Congress restored funding for the Beach Act in their 2014 compromise budget bill passed earlier this year, Surfrider was hopeful that the President would see the value in investing in US beaches and protecting the health of more than a 100 million annual beach visitors.

The surfing non-governmental organization will be looking to Congress to restore funding for the beach and water testing and public notification programs supported by the EPA's Beach Act grants program.

"The President's proposed program savings of less than $10 million, will be putting coastal tourism and recreation economies valued at nearly $90 billion at risk," adds Mara Dias, water quality manager at Surfrider Foundation

"The potential public health cost could result in more people being exposed to polluted water at the beach and will also dwarf any potential savings."