CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2093 under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 2093 was introduced on April 23, 2009, by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure reported the bill by voice vote on June 4, 2009.
H.R. 2093 extends the authorization for grants to State and local governments provided under the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act. The bill authorizes $40 million annually in Fiscal Years 2010 through 2014 for these beach-monitoring grant programs. In 2009, EPA expects to award $9.9 million in grants to eligible States, territories and tribes for their beach water protection programs.
Under H.R. 2093, State and local programs for monitoring and notification would need to include public notification, source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address identified sources of contamination by pathogens in coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches or other areas used by the public.
The bill also requires beach-monitoring State and local grant programs to use a rapid-testing method for water within one year following the date of validation of a rapid-testing method by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). H.R. 2093 requires EPA by 2012 to complete an evaluation and validation of a rapid-testing method for water quality criteria and standards for pathogens and pathogen indicators.
H.R. 2093 additionally requires local and State beach-monitoring grant recipients to communicate with federal, State, and local agencies within two hours of receipt of a water quality sample. State and local grant recipients would also be required to provide information to a geographical database to inform the public about water quality standards along coastal recreational waters and update the database within 24 hours of revised information. The bill also requires that the state and local programs ensure closures are issued within two hours after the receipt of a pathogenic water quality sample and inform the public of identified sources of pathogenic contamination.
Finally, the bill requires EPA to conduct an annual compliance review of State and local programs and report to Congress on the adverse impact of excessive nutrients on coastal recreation waters, including those caused by algae blooms.
This legislation intends to enable States and local governments to be better equipped to locate and identify likely sources of coastal water contamination. Science and technology related to beach monitoring and assessment have improved in recent years so that now it is possible to implement rapid testing methods quickly and provide more timely notification of unsafe conditions to the public.
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act amended the Clean Water Act to incorporate provisions to reduce the risk of illness to users of the Nation's recreational waters. It authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award grants to eligible States, Territories, Tribes, and local governments to develop and implement microbiological monitoring programs of coastal recreation waters, including the Great Lakes, which are adjacent to beaches or similar points of access used by the public. BEACH Act grants also develop and implement programs to notify the public of the potential exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in these waters.
According to CBO, H.R. 2093 would cost $175 million over five years.