Jan. 10, 2007 – For the third year in a row, the Planning and Natural Resources Department (DPNR) will receive a water-quality monitoring and public-notification grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Virgin Islands is one of 35 states and territories to receive the money.
The territory stands to get $303,270, which is in the same ballpark as most of the recipients — most receive between $200,000 and $385,000. Only Florida and California, which have many, many miles of coastline, receive significantly more. Florida gets $534,700 and California, $522,920. Alaska comes in at the bottom of the list with $150,000.
DPNR uses the money to test water quality at 42 beaches across the territory every week. Department spokesman Jamal Nielsen said press releases go out every Friday announcing the results. They're available in the local media and online.
Nielsen said that in the St. Thomas/St. John district, Caribbean Safewater Laboratories Inc. performs the testing. On St. Croix , Ocean Systems Laboratory does the job.
According to the EPA, the grants are awarded based on beach season length, beach miles and beach use.
"By improving water quality and informing beachgoers, EPA is helping state and communities protect public health and coastal ecosystems and economies," EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles said in a press release issued Tuesday.
According to the press release, during the past seven years the EPA has spent nearly $62 million under the Beaches for Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000. Before the act passed, state and local monitoring and notification programs often differed across the country.
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