Reed Delivers $210,000 to Help Keep RI Beaches Clean & Swimmers Safe

 Reed Delivers $210,000 to Help Keep RI Beaches Clean & Swimmers Safe
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WARWICK, RI — Beach season is here and the Ocean State’s beaches are vital to the economy and environment.


To help keep Rhode Island’s beaches clean and healthy and keep the public informed about beach water quality, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced another $210,000 in federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act grant funding. The federal funds will be used by the Rhode Island Department of Health, in conjunction with local communities, to support weekly and monthly water quality monitoring and public notification programs for beaches around the state.


The Ocean State is home to over 400 miles of coastline and RIDOH’s Beach Monitoring Program oversees water quality testing at over 60 licensed beaches during the summer months to make sure the water is safe for swimming.


“Clean, safe beaches are essential to both our economy and public health. I helped support, pass, and fund the BEACH Act because it helps states and local communities team up to protect swimmers and our waters by collecting, testing, and posting water quality sample results. These federal BEACH Act funds are essential for Rhode Island’s Beach Monitoring Program,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, which oversees federal funding of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “There is an old saying: ‘What gets measured gets managed.’ This program ensures people are informed when temporary beach closures are warranted, and it is a smart investment in protecting public health and the health of our waterways.”


Since 2001, Senator Reed has led efforts to secure $4.9 million in BEACH grant funds – including $1,06,060 over the last five years — for Rhode Island to test beach waters for illness-causing bacteria and successfully prevented the Trump Administration from zeroing out funding for the program.


A beach closure day occurs when water testing reveals the presence of one or more potentially harmful contaminants that exceed healthy standards Last year, Rhode Island beaches experienced a total of 246 beach closure days, down from 503 in 2003.


Beach closures may be caused by water contamination due to heavy rain storms that create urban runoff or sewage overflows. In Rhode Island, health officials collect water samples and if the concentration of Enterococci bacteria in beach water exceeds 60 colony-forming units per 100 ml, a temporary beach closure is issued until the water quality improves.


Within 24 hours of water from a particular beach failing to meet quality requirements, RIDOH and its partners post signs at the entrance to the beach that the beach is closed and that swimming may cause illness. RIDOH also updates its beaches telephone line (401-222-2751) and website — — to reflect the status of all monitored closed beaches in the state.


Swimming in contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illness as well as respiratory disease, ear and eye infection, and skin rash. According to Environment America Research & Policy Center, each year there are an estimated 57 million cases of illness in the U.S. resulting from swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers and ponds.


So far this beach season, only one beach, Conimicut Point Beach in Warwick, has been closed due to high bacteria counts. It was closed to swimmers on June 6 and reopened five days later (5 beach closure days) after tests showed bacteria counts returned to safe levels.


In addition to BEACH Act grant awards, Senator Reed helped pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021 to provide $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater resource development projects across the country with a focus on upgrading aging infrastructure, mitigating climate change, and investing in new technologies.

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