OHIO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it's awarding Ohio with a $225,000 grant to monitor water quality at the state's beaches.
The money will help the state identify bacteria, possible sources of pollution, maintain and operate public notification systems and report the results to the EPA.
The funds fall under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, which allows the EPA to allocate funds to eligible state, territorial and Tribal applicants to help monitor water quality at coastal and Great Lakes beaches. That way, if bacteria levels are too high in certain areas, the agency will either notify the public by posting signs or close the beaches to keep swimmers safe.
The EPA has awarded more than $205 million in grants for the beach monitoring and notification programs since it started awarding grants in 2001. This year, the grants total $10,119,000.
Factors that affect a state's eligibility for the grants include the number of miles of shoreline, the length of the beach season and the populations of coastal counties.
The EPA’s most recent Beach Report found that beaches on U.S. coasts and along the Great Lakes were open and safe for swimming 92% of the time in 2020.
According to the EPA, the Great Lakes' largest source of pollution is phosphorous runoff from farmland. Another major pollutant includes plastics, which ends up on Ohio beaches, harms the wildlife and ends up in drinking water.
Phosphorous runoff also contributes to harmful algal blooms, which in previous years have closed down beaches along the Lake Erie shore because of the possibility of harming people and animals with toxins.