Beach water: testing one, two, three

Just because your local beach hasn't been closed in awhile doesn't mean it's somehow gotten cleaner-in fact it may be dirtier.

"Isn't that what water quality testing is for?" you may be wondering.

Well, yes, assuming that it's being done. According to an unnerving investigation conducted by the LA Times, beach health testing is at an all-time low since it was made law in 1999.

According to the law, beaches are required to test water quality at least once per week in summer months. Many beaches had been testing extensively year round, and on a near daily basis in the summer.

Currently, however, many government agencies are appealing to the law's unfortunate loophole-if the project isn't fully funded, testing isn't required.

Now beaches like Trestles, where thousands of people surf year-round, are being tested four times annually where they used to be tested 70 times annually. Not exactly reassuring, is it?

Source: Surfrider

Fairhaven, Massachusetts: citizens forced to choose another beach

While Barack Obama swims in the Gulf of Mexico, beachgoers in Fairhaven, Massachusetts were met with a nasty surprise last week when thousands of dead fish washed up on local beaches, causing a smell one young interviewee described as "wicked bad."

The dead fish, all of them menhaden (a species belonging to the herring family), also washed up en masse along the Delaware Bay in New Jersey.

Environmental experts are unsure of why the fish are dying, but don't believe pollution, a broken commercial fishing net, or toxic algae blooms are to blame.

The best explanation thus far is a lack of oxygen in the unusually warm water.

Beach Act: for safe sands and waters | Photo: Cumulus Clouds

For the third year in a row, Congress is considering a bill to reauthorize the Beach Act. This landmark law was first championed by Surfrider Foundation a decade ago.

The Clean Coastal Environment & Public Health Act of 2009 will increase the amount of federal dollars that can be spent on beach water quality monitoring and will modernize the technology we rely on to protect the health of the beach-going public.

It also expands the scope of the Beach Act to include tracking and cleaning up the sources of beach water pollution. The House of Representatives has passed this bill twice now, but it has not yet seen the Senate floor.

Urge your Senators to show their support for healthy beaches and robust coastal economies by cosponsoring the Clean Coastal Environment & Public Health Act of 2009. Don't let them put this off for yet another year!

Support Surfrider.