EPA recommends new water-quality testing


New recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding recreational water quality could affect the marine industry.

That’s according to Larry Innis, legislative affairs director for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, who said in an email that the recommended new recreational clean water criteria shorten testing periods, making larger swings possible in contaminants.

The EPA said in a statement that the criteria are to protect public health during visits to beaches and waters year-round.

“The science-based criteria provide information to help states improve public health protection by addressing a broader range of illness symptoms, better accounting for pollution after heavy rainfall, providing more protective recommendations for coastal waters, encouraging early alerts to beach-goers and promoting rapid water testing,” the EPA statement read.

The criteria released Monday do not impose any new requirements; instead, they are a tool that states can choose to use in setting their own standards, the EPA said.

The criteria provide states and communities with the most up-to-date science and information, which they can use to determine whether water quality is safe for the public and when to issue an advisory or a beach closure, the EPA said. The agency also said it has provided a variety of other tools to help states evaluate and manage recreational waters.

The new criteria are based on several recent health studies and use a broader definition of illness to recognize that symptoms may occur without a fever, including a number of stomach ailments, the EPA said.

The EPA also narrowed from 90 days to 30 the time period over which the results of monitoring samples may be averaged.

“This produces a more accurate picture of the water quality for that given time, allowing for improved notification time about water quality to the public,” the EPA statement read. “This shortened time period especially accounts for heavy rainfall that can wash pollution into rivers, lakes or the ocean or cause sewer overflows.”

The strengthened recommendations include:

• A short-term and long-term measure of bacteria levels that must be used together to ensure that water quality is properly evaluated.

• Stronger recommendations for coastal water quality so public health is protected similarly in coastal and fresh waters.

• A new rapid-testing method that states can use to determine whether water quality is safe within hours of sampling.

• An early-alert approach for states to use to quickly issue swimming advisories for the public.

• Tools that allow states to predict water quality problems and identify sources of pollution and develop criteria for specific beaches.

Click here for the full release.

— Reagan Haynes


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