The National Resources Defense Council recently released it's annual beach report, and the data is sobering, to say the least. The 24th annual report reveals that of 3,500 water samples taken across the United States, fully 1 in 10 failed to pass the EPA's new water safety standard. The NRDC has been using the new standards to evaluate beaches since 2013, and while 7% of U.S. beaches were considered polluted in 2012 under the old standards, 10% are now identified as hazardous.
The new standards, dubbed the BAV or "Beach Action Value," set a threshold for water quality, which can be compromised by sewage overflow and contaminated water runoff. Shockingly, the EPA estimates that nearly 3.5 million people get sick from contact with raw sewage in swimming water each year.
Unfortunately for Green Conscience customers, New York state finds itself right in the midst of some of the EPA's "repeat offender" beaches, which have violated the standards over the past 5 years. The Great Lakes region is home to the highest number of polluted beaches on the EPA's list, while the Gulf Coast and New England follow closely behind. According to NRDC water program director Steve Fleischli, the Great Lakes tend to have less water circulation, as they are a "closed system," naturally lending themselves to higher levels of pollution. The region also has a high number of urban pollution sources, further contributing to the problem.
The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a Clean Water Protection Rule, which would strengthen protections for streams and wetlands, which naturally act as safeguards against pollution, filtering harmful bacteria and other substances from water.
The NRDC has an interactive map on its website for anyone interested in checking out their local beaches. If you're taking the family on vacation this summer, a few minutes on the site might make a world of difference.