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GLIN==> Beach closures prompt new regional initiative

Great Lakes Commission Media Advisory

For immediate release
January 9, 2001

Contact:  Julie Wagemakers
Phone:  734-665-9135
Fax:  734-665-4370
E-mail:  juliew@glc.org

Beach closures prompt new regional initiative

Ann Arbor, Mich. - Thanks to a new partnership between the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the Great Lakes Commission, 
rising concern over contaminated beaches and associated public health 
problems are now being addressed.  Nationally, the U.S. EPA is initiating 
the Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure and Health (BEACH) Program to 
strengthen U.S. beach programs and water quality standards, better inform 
the public, and promote scientific research to further protect the health 
of beachgoers.  Regionally, the Great Lakes has been selected as a pilot 
site for a beach health survey to assess the consistency of beach closure 
and restriction advisories, generate a report of action items, and expedite 
a Great Lakes mapping effort that will connect with and enhance a national 
database.  The result will be a better informed public, reduced health risk 
and the data needed to address contamination problems.

To support this effort, the Great Lakes Commission has developed a new web 
site on beach health at http://www.glc.org/monitoring/beaches.  The site 
features interactive survey results and published reports on water 
monitoring activities for all U.S. coastal Great Lakes beaches.  Visitors 
to the site can retrieve information about individual beaches, as well as 
the monitoring agency and the standards used to determine advisories and 
closures.  The new site also provides links to related U.S. EPA web sites 
and will be updated periodically as the U.S. EPA continues to update its 
beach closure information.

"The beach health survey and interactive web site are tools that will prove 
useful to scientists, resource managers, decisionmakers and the public in 
improving beach health throughout the region," says Great Lakes Commission 
Chair Nat Robinson.  "It's a win-win situation for the health of our 
environment and our economy, both of which are influenced by our water 

Each year, thousands of beach closures are reported at rivers, lakes and 
oceans throughout the United States due to disease-causing microorganisms. 
 Contamination problems at many other beaches may go undetected due to 
inadequate monitoring, thereby placing the public at risk of waterborne 

The beach health survey and web site will be featured at the Great Lakes 
Beach Conference in Chicago, Feb. 6-8, 2001.  For information about the 
conference, which is sponsored by U.S. EPA Region 5 and the city of 
Chicago, contact Cheryl Vaccarello at 866-242-3224

The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Nathaniel E. Robinson (Wisconsin), 
is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S. 
federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environ  
ment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and 
its residents.  The Commission consists of state legislators, agency 
officials and governors' appointees from its eight member states. 
 Associate membership for Ontario and Quebec was established through the 
signing of a "Declaration of Partnership."  The Commission maintains a 
formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, 
tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests.  The 
Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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