Beach closed, maybe gone

"Twenty thousand days of closing or beach advisories were recorded in 2004 on US ocean, bay, and Great Lake beaches," so reports The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) in a Tuesday news article. An eightfold increase from 1991 and ten percent over 2003, beach closures are predicted to increase. Beach shoreline monitoring combined with state legislative actions and the federal Beach Act of 2000 requiring states adopt Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards have resulted in tightening "controls on sewage overflows, polluted runoff, and urban storm water - key sources of the bacteria and toxics that make beaches unfit for use." The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a report calling for more government efforts not only in monitoring but in solving the problems. In the summary report for Hawaii, it is noted that "Hawaii's bacteria standard is one of the strictest in the nation, but its department of health does not always close a beach if the standard has been exceeded."

The Surfrider Foundation USA has launched its comprehensive web site, State of the Beach 2005, as an "annual update on the health of our nation's beaches. It is intended to empower concerned citizens and coastal managers by giving them the information needed to take action." They judged beach environmental quality according to particular health indicators: beach access, surf zone water quality, beach erosion, beach fill, shoreline structures, erosion response, beach ecology and surfing areas. Hawaii received a "generally good" grade, scoring high on beach information and access, yet cited on the serious beach erosion and resultant shoreline armoring with no monitoring of its effects and no program to regulate future construction. Though all Hawaii beaches are publicly owned, Surfrider Foundation finds "some landowners are attempting to restrict access by creatively defining their shoreward property line."

TESTING THE WATERS - Summary for Hawaii
(available in PDF, 256K, from NRDC)

TESTING THE WATERS 2005 - A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches
(full report)
(available in PDF, 1.7M, 280 pp, from NRDC)

State of the Beach, 2005 - Hawaii
(available in HTML from Surfrider Foundation USA)


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