oEPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
Office of Water
EPA 823-R20-001
October 2020
EPA's Beach Report:
2019 Swimming Season
Introduction
This report summarizes information that states, territories, and tribes with coastal and Great
Lakes beaches submitted to EPA reporting beach advisories and closings for the 2019
swimming season. The information in this report covers January 1 through December 31, 2019,
and includes data submitted to EPA as of July 29, 2020. A version of this report incorporating
any updated data since this report was released can be generated at
https://ofmpub.epa. gov/apex/beacon2/f?p=BEACON2:DNR.
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000 authorizes
EPA to provide grants to eligible states, territories, and tribes to monitor their coastal
recreational waters adjacent to beaches used by the public for attainment of applicable water
quality standards for pathogens or pathogen indicators, such as bacteria, that indicate the
possible presence of disease-causing pathogens and to notify the public when there is a
potential risk to public health. EPA awarded nearly $9.3 million in such grants in 2018 for the
2019 swimming season. The BEACH Act requires that grant recipients report their coastal
recreational waters monitoring and notification data to EPA and that EPA maintain a publicly
accessible electronic database of those data. This report is based on those data. Information on
grouped or individual jurisdictions or beaches can be found at
https://watersgeo.epa.gov/BEACON2/about.html.
2019 Swimming Season Results
States, territories, and tribes take water samples to monitor the water at swimming beaches to
see if levels of specific indicator bacteria (e.g., enterococci) exceed the water quality standards
that apply to that water. "Program beaches" have, at minimum, a program to notify the public if
swimming in the coastal water is unsafe, and most also have a program to routinely monitor
water quality. In 2019, 78 percent of coastal and Great Lakes program beaches in the United
States were monitored for pathogens or pathogen indicators. Chart 1 shows the number of
beaches that were monitored and the number of program beaches in each state, territory, and
tribe in 2019. When monitoring results show exceedances of water quality standards for
pathogens or pathogen indicators, states, territories, and tribes either issue a beach advisory
that warns people of possible risks of swimming or a beach closing that closes the beach to
public swimming. The states and local agencies that do not routinely monitor water quality use
models or other policies (e.g., advisory after a certain amount of rainfall) as a basis for issuing
notification actions at beaches. These advisories or closings typically stay in effect until
monitoring shows that levels of pathogens or pathogen indicators comply with applicable water
quality standards.
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Chart 1: Number of total and monitored coastal and Great Lake program beaches by
state/territory/tribe in 2019
4,227 Program Beaches
3,316 Monitored Beaches
' AK
HI
404
1 22 ^ -
^ 559 559
67 67
73 73
397 214
DE 16 16
MD 63 63
Tribes:
Grand Portage Band	12 12
Makah Tribe	T1 5
Bad River Band	15 15
Swinomish Tribe	6 6

Commonwealth of	American	Guam	Puerto Rico	U.S. Virgin
Northern Marianas	Samoa	31 31	35 35	Islands
86 86	48 48	43 43
How many beaches had notification actions?
In 2019, 40 percent of the nation's monitored
beaches (1,342 out of 3,316) had at least one
advisory or closing. Chart 2 shows the percent
of monitored beaches nationwide with one or
more advisories or closings in years 2015
through 2019.
Chart 2: Percent of nation's monitored
beaches with one or more notification actions
100%
80%
60%
EBHBHB
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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What are the possible pollution sources
causing notification actions?
Beach advisories and closings can result from
a variety of pollution sources: stormwater
runoff after rainfall; pet and wildlife waste;
waste from boats; leaking septic systems;
malfunctions at wastewater treatment plants or
broken sewer lines; overflows from sewer
systems; or harmful algal blooms. To help
minimize the risk to beachgoers, EPA is, for
example, helping communities improve
sewage treatment plants and reduce adverse
impacts from rainfall as much as possible by
providing water infrastructure investment
loans.
States, territories, and tribes reported the
possible sources of pollution shown in Chart 3
that resulted in beach advisories or closings or
were identified in beach surveys in 2019.
Chart 3: Reported possible sources of
pollution in 2019
Wildlife AgriculturalAl^ae Boat
7% 1% _% ^3%
Runoff
5%
CAFO
0% CSO
Other
Storm
23%
Septic_/
Sewe
POTW
Unknown
48%
(Note: Some percentages are showing as 0%
because only whole numbers are being shown.)
How many notification actions were issued
and how long did they last?
States, territories, and tribes issued 9,796
beach notification actions (i.e., advisories or
closings) during the 2019 swimming season.
An advisory or closing is typically removed
when follow-up water quality monitoring shows
that pathogens or pathogen indicators comply
with applicable water quality standards. For 85
percent of the notification actions in 2019,
coastal recreational waters no longer
exceeded applicable water quality standards
and beaches were deemed safe for swimming
within a week (Chart 4). In 2019, 21 percent of
the notification actions lasted only one day,
and 21 percent ended between one and two
days.
Chart 4: Duration of beach notification
actions in 2019
>30 days
./L 1%
14%
21%
1 days

3%
\
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What percentage of days were beaches open
and safe for swimming?
Monitored beaches on U.S. coasts and along
the Great Lakes were open and safe for
swimming 92 percent of the time in 2019. EPA
calculates the total available beach days and
the number of beach days with advisories or
closings to better track trends over time. To
calculate total available beach days, EPA adds
the length of the beach season (in days) for
every monitored beach in each state, territory,
and tribe. For 2019, EPA determined that
598,856 beach days were associated with the
swimming seasons of 3,316 beaches with
monitoring programs. Notification actions were
reported on 47,768 days out of those 598,856
beach days. Chart 5 shows the percentage of beach days that the nation's monitored beaches
were open and without any advisories in years 2015 through 2019.
Where Can I Find More Information?
To find out more about what you can do to help protect beaches, visit
https://www.epa.gov/beaches/act-beach.
To find out more about what affects beach health, visit https://www.epa.gov/beaches/learn-
what-affects-beach-health.
For general information about beaches, visit )ttps://www.epa.gov/beaches.
For current information about a specific beach, visit https://www.epa.gov/beaches/state-
territorial-tribal-and-epa-beach-program-contacts.
For beach information that states, territories, and tribes have reported to EPA, visit
http://watersgeo.epa.gov/beacon2.
Chart 5: Percent of days the nation's
monitored beaches were open and safe for
swimming
100%
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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