Palm Tree on a beach in Puerto RicoOn July 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published updated National Beach Guidance and Required Performance Criteria for Grants. To receive grants, the 38 states, territories, and tribes eligible under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act must meet the performance criteria established by EPA.

According to EPA, the requirements will lead to improved public health protection by addressing a broader range of illness symptoms, better accounting for pollution after heavy rainfall, providing more protective recommendations for coastal waters, encouraging same-day notification to beach goers, and promoting rapid water testing.

Grant recipients will be required to develop two schedules, including one for adopting the standards and another for identifying and using a more conservative bacteria concentration threshold to trigger public notification of beach advisories or closures. EPA is encouraging the use of the Beach Action Value notification threshold.

EPA has also published a new beaches website to better share information with the public and more technical audiences. The site provides information for beach goers about planning a safe beach trip. Technical resources are also available for state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, such as beach evaluation and management tools, water quality criteria, data, reports, and guidance. Read more in a blog from Nancy Stoner, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water.