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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 10, 2000

President Clinton: Strengthening Protection for Our Beaches and Coasts

October 10, 2000

President Clinton today signed new legislation to strengthen protection for America's beaches and coasts by requiring states to adopt coastal water quality standards and notify the public when they are not being met. America's coasts are the number one family vacation destination, and these new protections will ensure that fewer families arrive at the beach only to discover that it is not safe to go in the water. The legislation, which builds on the Administration's strong record of protecting and conserving America's coasts and oceans, also provides assistance to states to carry out these new efforts. The President also urged Congress to fully fund his requests for ocean and coastal conservation programs.

Ensuring a Healthy Trip to the Beach. The President signed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act. The act aims to improve the health of America's beaches and give visitors the assurance that trips to the beach will be healthy ones. The Beach Act amends the Clean Water Act to accomplish the following: -- Adoption of state water quality standards for coastal recreational waters;
-- A national assessment of potential health risks resulting from exposure to pathogens in coastal recreation waters; -- Improved detection of pathogens harmful to human health; -- Improved public notice -- including beach signage -- that coastal waters are not meeting or are not expected to meet water quality standards; and
-- A publicly available database of discrete coastal recreation waters that lists whether such waters are part of a monitoring program.

Only a few states currently comprehensively test their beaches and notify their citizens when they are unsafe, and last year coastal states issued thousands of beach closures and advisories. The Beach Act calls on states to adopt minimum standards for beach water quality, regularly test beaches for pathogens, and notify the public of unsafe conditions. The act also includes a $30 million authorization through 2005 to assist states in developing and implementing monitoring plans.

Safeguarding Our Oceans and Coasts. The Clinton-Gore Administration continues to work for healthier beaches and cleaner coastal waters, greater protection for endangered and threatened marine species, sound fisheries management, and support for marine protected areas. To better address long-term challenges, the President and Vice President launched the Clean Water Action Plan, and a national dialogue leading to a comprehensive strategy for strengthening federal ocean policy for the 21st century.

The President urged Congress to fully fund his requests for ocean and coastal conservation programs so that communities around the country may enjoy healthy beaches and clean waters for years to come.

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