The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (B.E.A.C.H.) Act provides Michigan with $274,000 a year for monitoring Great Lakes beaches. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will eliminate the federal program as it trims nearly $10 million from its Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
Shannon Briggs, a toxicologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, isn't sure what lies ahead for the funding.
“We’ve received some amount of funding every year,” she said. “That money is distributed by the state to local beach management programs.”
Ottawa County health officials utilize these federal funds to look at beach quality.
“We have used B.E.A.C.H. Act funding and Clean Michigan Funding to test inland beaches,” said Adaline Hambley, the county's environmental health manager.
County health officials said the funding cut would force them to monitor differently, if at all.
“I’m not sure if we’ll have a program next year,” Hambley said.
At least up to this year, beach water in Ottawa County is tested weekly from June through September. Partnerships with several organizations have allowed the county to test more frequently and extensively than any other county on Michigan's west coast.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.