Alliance for the Great Lakes
For Immediate Release
April 16, 2008
Stephanie Smith: 312-497-1049
Frances Canonizado: 312-939-0838 ext. 228
Adopt-a-Beach Kickoff: Cleaning Shorelines and So Much More
As part of the annual Adopt-a-Beach Spring Kickoff that runs from Saturday through April 30, the Alliance rolls out a new approach to assessing beach health that will give a clearer picture of pollution and how to address it.
Beach adopters will be hitting shorelines armed with data collection forms that are aligned with new, standardized forms the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will release later this spring to dig deeper into the sources of beach pollution than ever before.
Among other things, volunteers will record data about rivers, streams or other tributaries located near beaches, as well as signs of emerging Great Lakes threats -- such as the presence of algae or bird die-offs that could be contributing bacteria or other pollutants.
Looking at beach pollution through a broader lens helps us have a better snapshot of the overall problems affecting beach health, said Alliance Education Program Director Stephanie Smith. That, in turn, helps inform eventual solutions to these problems.
The Alliance is introducing the forms, which build on the EPAs sanitary surveys, as part of a regional effort to assist beach managers in identifying sources of pollution. The EPA began piloting sanitary surveys throughout the Great Lakes during the 2007 beach season. Involving the Alliances volunteer corps in the effort promises to shed a broader light on the problem of beach contamination.
The Alliances Spring Kickoff encourages teams to visit their beaches for the first time this year and is also used to recruit new teams to the program. This year, volunteers will take beach adoption to a new level, Smith said.
Our adopters are helping to define what a healthy beach is in a more comprehensive way than they have in the past, she said.
More than 5,000 volunteers participated in the program last year in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, removing 28,996 pounds of debris and collecting valuable beach health data.
The next step toward achieving cleaner Great Lakes beaches: Ensuring the availability of local, state and federal funds to address the problems that are harming beach health.
Help may be on the way. Two competing bills are pending in Congress to authorize funding for beach monitoring and beach pollution prevention. The Senate version of the BEACH Act (S 2844) would allow funds to be used to stop sources of pollution from entering the Great Lakes; the House version (HR 2537) is missing this crucial provision.
For more information on the Adopt-a-Beach program, visit www.greatlakes.org.
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest independent citizens' organization in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online at www.greatlakes.org.
Alliance for the Great Lakes