The Coastal Packet: Maine to lose beach monitoring funds

Sunday, May 24

Maine to lose beach monitoring funds

Working Waterfront - According to a 2014 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Maine ranked 27 on a list of 30 coastal states for water quality at beaches. The results were based on monitoring during the previous summer for bacterial levels, pH levels and other factors.

In Maine, no state agency is mandated to sample or test beach water to make sure it's safe for swimming. Towns and state parks aren’t required to monitor or post their beaches. The state's only beach water-quality monitoring program is Maine Healthy Beaches, a voluntary program in which towns and state parks may choose to participate. Local staff and trained volunteers collect water samples which are sent to a professional lab for analysis. The program is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, managed by the Department of Environmental Protection and coordinated by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Keri Kaczor, coordinator for Maine Healthy Beaches, sounded the alarm recently, noting that the current presidential budget has zeroed out funding for beach monitoring programs nationwide. Without the EPA funds, she said, Maine's program will no longer exist.

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