Thanks to the growing effects of climate change, beautiful beaches around the world are quickly becoming endangered species. But rising sea levels and ocean acidification aren’t the only threats to our favorite swimming spots.
Once again, the good ‘ole human race has topped the list of things attacking the ocean ecosystem. Although we love to visit the beach, it seems we couldn’t care less about protecting them for future generations.
A recent report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 10 percent of all water quality samples collected last year from nearly 3,500 coastal and Great Lakes beaches in the U.S. contained bacteria levels that failed to meet EPA standards for swimmer safety.
This is the 24th annual “Testing the Waters” beach report published by the NRDC. It confirmed that despite two decades of calling for stricter protections against pollution, poor water quality persists at many U.S. seashores, with massive stormwater runoff and sewage overflows historically being the largest known sources of the problem.
“Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip,” said NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine in a statement. “But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick. The EPA estimates that up to 3.5 million people become ill from contact with raw sewage from sanitary overflows each year.
In the 2014 report, 17 U.S. beaches in eight states were flagged as repeat offenders because of chronic water pollution problems. Each not only had more than 25 percent of samples exceed the BAV in 2013, but also had more than 25 percent of samples exceed the national standard then in effect each year from 2009 to 2012. They are:
The good news is that many more beaches passed the EPA’s tests with flying colors. NRDC designated these 35 popular beaches across 14 states as “superstars” for consistently meeting water quality safety thresholds. Each beach on this list met national water quality benchmarks 98 percent of the time over the past five years. They are:
According to the NRDC, the fastest and most efficient way to address water pollution at the nation’s beaches is to finalize and adopt the Clean Water Protection Rule proposed by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are accepting public input on their Clean Water Protection Rule, an initiative that would restore pollution control safeguards to a host of streams, wetlands and other waters that are not clearly protected today. This will help protect our beaches from pollution, because these waters filter pollution and absorb stormwater.”
Read the full report and use the NRDC’s zip code searchable map at www.nrdc.org/beaches You can also take action to protect our rivers, lakes and beaches by signing the petition below.
Read more: beaches, beautiful beaches, climate change, endangered beaches, erosion, nrdc, ocean pollution, pollution, sea level rise, summer vacation, Testing the Waters, threatened beaches, tourism, travel
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