Days are Numbered
EPA Recommends New Recreational Water Quality Criteria to Better Protect Public Health
WASHINGTON -- Pursuant to an order from a U.S. District Court and as required by the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today recommended new recreational water quality criteria for states that will help protect peoples’ health during visits to beaches and waters year round. The science-based criteria provide information to help states improve 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 early alerts to beachgoers and promoting rapid water testing. The criteria released today do not impose any new requirements; instead, they are a tool that states can choose to use in setting their own standards.
The criteria provide states and communities with the most up to date science and information that they can use to determine whether water quality is safe for the public and when to issue an advisory or a beach closure. EPA has provided a variety of other tools to help states evaluate and manage recreational waters.
The new criteria are based on several recent health studies and use a broader definition of illness to recognize that symptoms may occur without a fever, including a number of stomach ailments. EPA also narrowed from 90 days to 30 days the time period over which the results of monitoring samples may be averaged. This produces a more accurate picture of the water quality for that given time, allowing for improved notification time about water quality to the public. This shortened time period especially accounts for heavy rainfall that can wash pollution into rivers, lakes or the ocean or cause sewer overflows.