Date: May 19, 2008
Contact: Dr. Richard L. Whitman
219-926-8336 x 424 firstname.lastname@example.org
Swim or Not to Swim?
Concerns about water quality at beaches
along the Great Lakes have prompted the need to better understand when waters
are safe for recreation. A new collaborative project is aimed at improving
information for beach managers when they are faced with deciding whether to
close beaches to protect public health. This collaborative effort will draw on
the expertise of U.S. Geological Survey and other federal, state and local
The project has been funded through interagency implementation
of the President?s Ocean Action Plan for $700,000 in fiscal year 2008, and is
expected to increase to over $1 million per year for each of the following 4
years. This research represents a broad commitment by USGS to the Plan.
?The strong existing partnerships and scientific expertise needed to
address Great Lakes recreational water quality issues made this Great Lakes
partnership a perfect candidate to address the Ocean Action Plan and its near
term research priorities,? said John Haines, USGS Coastal and Marine Geology
Program Coordinator. ?This partnership will significantly improve our
understanding of the factors related to beach closures, and will provide
important new tools and information Great Lakes beach managers need for
effective decision making.?
Scientists will focus on improving
water-quality forecasting by enhancing and expanding models that help beach
managers decide if beach advisories or closures are necessary. They will
continue work to identify processes that influence the occurrence and abundance
of pathogens; identify and evaluate rapid methods of monitoring pathogens at
beaches; and improve communication with beach managers.
monitoring has raised significant and complex questions. Local beach managers
are looking to scientists with expertise in diverse fields to gain a better
understanding of their beaches,? said Dr.
Shannon Briggs, Toxicologist at
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. ?This effort will enhance our
knowledge and improve communication between scientists and beach managers.?
To strengthen this partnership, the Beach Health Initiative Steering
Committee was formed consisting of key partners that will provide input and
guidance on research direction for this project. This committee will
continue the communication that began at the joint 2005 EPA, NOAA, USGS and
Great Lakes Beach Association Beach Health Research Needs Workshop where beach
managers provided input and feedback on the information and decision making
tools they needed to assist them in protecting public health at their beaches.
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