START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
2,582,401 people care about Environment & Wildlife

NRDC Study Finds U.S. Beaches More Polluted Than Ever

NRDC Study Finds U.S. Beaches More Polluted Than Ever

 

In 2010, closures and pollution advisories at U.S. beaches soared to its second-highest level in 21 years, according to the results of an annual water quality survey conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the report, Testing the Waters 2011 , which utilizes water quality and public notification data at coastal U.S. areas, beach closings and advisories were issued for 24,091 days in total, a 29 percent increase from 2009. More than two-thirds of those were issued because bacteria levels exceeded applicable standards.

But where is all this bacteria coming from?

The report states that beaches are often closed because monitoring services detect the presence of bacteria that indicate the presence of pathogens — microscopic organisms from human and animal wastes that pose a threat to human health. The key known contributors of these contaminants are stormwater runoff, untreated or partially treated discharges from sewage treatment systems, discharges from sanitary sewers and septic systems, and wildlife.

For the second year in a row, the report also highlights closures, advisories, and notices issued at beaches impacted by last summer’s BP oil disaster. From the beginning of the spill until June 15, 2011 there have been a total of 9,474 days of oil-related beach notices, advisories and closures at Gulf Coast beaches due to the spill

While most of the advisories, closures and notices that were issued last year due to the oil spill were lifted by the end of the year, cleanup crews are still at work, states the report. And the spill is still interfering with trips to the beach as oil continues to wash ashore at Gulf Coast beaches in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi.

As of June 15, 2011, four beach segments in Louisiana that have been closed since the spill have yet to open, and three beaches in Florida have remained under oil spill notice.

In 2011, NRDC rated 200 popular beaches based on the cleanliness of the water and their monitoring and public notification practices. How clean is your beach? Check the ratings here.

Since pesticide, agricultural and industrial waste, and municipal wastewater run-off are some of the biggest factors contributing to poor water quality in the U.S., the NRDC suggests that enhanced regulation to prevent this pollution is the best way to keep more beaches open.

The NRDC supports a bill that Congress has considered in prior years, called the Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act, which would reauthorize and increase the federal grants made available to states under the BEACH Act.

Specifically, the bill would allow funding to be used for identifying sources of beachwater contamination (and might even provide support for remedying pollution sources); it would require the EPA to approve rapid test methods for monitoring beachwater pollution and ensure that states will use them, and it would improve coordination between the public health officials who monitor beachwater and the environmental agencies that regulate the sources of beachwater pollution.

The NRDC says that EPA’s reform of its regulations will be a major opportunity to advance communities’ use of green infrastructure. In addition, leaders in Congress have introduced bills to promote green infrastructure, require stormwater retention by highway development projects and fund community infrastructure improvements.

People can also help prevent beach pollution by taking simple steps, such as picking up pet waste, maintaining septic systems, putting swim diapers with plastic covers on babies and keeping trash off the beach.

Related Reading:

Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” Larger Than Ever and Growing

Ocean Trash: Polluting Seas and Killing Sea Lions

Google Earth Video Shows Ocean Pollution Is A Global Problem

 

Image Credit: Flickr – wheany

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

quick poll

vote now!

Loading poll...

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

22 comments

+ add your own
1:55AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

This is a very sad story. Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

4:58PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Increasing environmental problems because people don't want to deal effectively with the problems. When are people going to get real?

10:29AM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

I like to comb the beach for sea glass, but mostly what I find (and remove) is garbage.

5:13AM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

Dont discount the fact that the hundreds of swimmers in the water may not want to go to the toilet when they feel the need.

4:11AM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

I haven't been to the beach in years. I do like to eat fish. We need the ocean fit for edible fish. Phytoplankton have declined about 40% since 1950. I wonder if Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion bringing up cold (AND ALSO NUTRIENT RICH) water from the bottom to condense the low temperature low pressure steam in the partial vacuum boiling chamber would help the phytoplankton be fruitful and multiply more and thus help the fish be fruitful and multiply more.

10:38PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

It would be wonderful to have clean beaches, seas, bays, and oceans to swim in.

10:21PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

So sad. Makes you wonder what it's going to take for people to understand that they need to dispose of their rubbish ethically.
Stupid humans.

1:46PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

The beaches are the edge of the ocean.
The ocean it's self is dieing.
And the oil spill hasn't stopped spilling. It is still releasing oil into the gulf.
Until the people get big business to repair and put back clean areas, we will have unhealthy beaches.

1:35PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

Only when the last tree is cut down,
Only when the last river is poisoned,
Only when the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

American Indian Proverb

11:41AM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

Natural open spaces as garbage dumps, who'da thunk?

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

thank you for sharing! they have the right to live no less than us.

In a study published recently in Science, researchers found that half of the warming can be attributed…

Pushing the start time back a bit sounds nice and would do some good, but at the same time kids need…

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.