THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PROTECTING OUR BEACHES AND COASTAL WATERS
To help protect the nation's beaches and coastal waters -- as well as public health -- Vice President Gore is announcing a new website listing beach advisories and closings, and a coordinated strategy to respond to toxic algal blooms. He and President Clinton also are calling on Congress to fully fund the Administration's Clean Water Action Plan.
Despite significant progress in protecting our beaches, bays and coastal waters over the past quarter century, the job is not done. Many beaches and coastal areas remain threatened by bacterial contamination from sewage, polluted runoff from farms and city streets, and ocean dumping. Each year, thousands of beaches are closed to swimming because of pollution. And toxic algal blooms are choking marine life, threatening fishing and disrupting coastal economies.
In February, the President launched the Clean Water Action Plan -- a comprehensive blueprint for completing the job of cleaning our rivers, lakes and coastal waters. The plan will set strong goals and provide states, communities and landowners with the tools and resources to meet them.
New initiatives under the plan that will protect coastal areas include:
An Environmental Protection Agency website offers important information on beaches, including which beaches are monitored for microbial pollution, which have advisories issued because of pollution, and how to find out more. The new Beach Watch Program internet site is found at http://www.epa.gov/ost/beaches. A similar website site is being developed to provide easy access to national fish advisories. The Beach Action Plan is a five-year strategy to develop stronger, faster and more accurate beach monitoring programs for states, to strengthen beach water quality standards, to improve public access to information on beach water quality, and to increase research to address problems related to skin, upper respiratory tract, as well as eye, ear, nose and throat infections in swimmers. Federal agencies will develop a coordinated response system to support state and local efforts to address toxic algal blooms such as Pfiesteria, red and brown tides, and other harmful organisms. Agencies will work with states, academia, and others to implement the National Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Monitoring Strategy. Federal agencies will work with coastal states and territories to ensure that, by December 1999, they have developed enforceable plans to reduce polluted runoff in coastal areas.
Full Funding for Clean Water. The President's budget proposes an additional $568 million in fiscal year 1999 -- a 35 percent increase -- and a total increase of $2.3 billion over five years to carry out the Clean Water Action Plan. The President and Vice President are calling on Congress to approve those funds to ensure clean, healthy water for all Americans.