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Oceana and Earth 911 Launch New Beach Water Quality Web Service


July 2, 2002
Washington, DC/Phoenix, AZ
Contact:
Jackie Savitz ( jsavitz@oceana.org | 202-833-3900)




Today, for the first time, beach goers will be able to find out easily whether their favorite ocean beach is clean enough for swimming or closed because of water pollution. By logging on to Oceana.org or Earth911.org, health advisory, beach closure and ocean pollution information will be easy to access in one location.

Oceana and Earth 911 believe the public has a right to know whether the beaches where they vacation are safe for swimming. Until now, a complex structure of state, county, and city governments, combined with various health and environmental agencies has made it difficult for people to even know where to start to find out about water quality at area beaches. Oceana and Earth 911 have partnered with state and local health and environmental agencies to establish the ground breaking national Beach Reporting System (BRS), which compiles the most recent data on beach water quality across the country. The results of official government water tests are reported to the system and the new web service presents the information in colorful, easy to read maps that link to descriptions of beach water quality on both organizations web sites.

Nothing spoils a summer day more than hearing that the beach where you are ready to swim, wade or surf is too polluted. By checking Oceana.org, people can know the beach is open for swimming before they go. Oceana.org also provides steps we can take to ensure that beach water will continue to be clean for our children and ourselves, said Jackie Savitz, director of Oceana’s Pollution Campaign.

Beach water quality is threatened by bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals. Today, runoff pollution is a major reason that approximately 40 percent of U.S. waterways and coastlines fail to meet standards for swimming or fishing. Runoff pollution occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation water runs over land, picks up pollutants along the way, and deposits them into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. The new web service will offer facts on ocean pollution and community-specific resources to help reduce the impacts of runoff.

After building the successful Earth 911 information system, we knew that the system would be a logical tool for government to provide this valuable information to the public, said Chris Warner, Founder of Earth 911. Partnering with Oceana in this endeavor has allowed us to leverage our strengths for the good of the public, and we are just so excited to be working with Oceana to get this system out there.

The BRS was created in response to the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (B.E.A.C.H.) Act of 2000 that created a consistent approach to public notification of water quality monitoring results. The BRS allows local health and environmental officials to notify the public of water quality sampling results and health determinations immediately as they are detected using both the Internet and a toll-free hotline. In the B.E.A.C.H. Act, Congress promised funding for states to monitor and notify the public, but full funding has not been provided to states. Full funding is necessary to ensure that local governments have the tools they need to monitor and notify the public about whether it is safe to swim at local beaches.

About Oceana
Oceana is a brand new international environmental organization created for the sole purpose of protecting the world’s oceans to sustain the circle of life. In May, Oceana merged with the American Oceans Campaign continuing to bring together dedicated people from around the world to build an international movement to save the oceans through public policy advocacy, science, economics, legal action, grassroots mobilization, and public education. Oceana's Beach Water Quality Site, Media Center and other information resources are available at www.Oceana.org or by calling toll-free 1-877-7-OCEANA.

About Earth 911
Earth 911 is a nationwide network of community-specific environmental resources and information available online (Earth911.org) or toll-free (1-800-CLEANUP), delivering yearlong local resources on recycling, household hazardous waste disposal, beach water quality and other environmental issues. Earth 911 was awarded the Stockholm Challenge Award and has been featured on CNN, USA Today and ENN, as well as on a variety of environmental portals and state Web sites.