OCEAN CITY, MD (JUNE 28, 2006) – During a visit to Ocean City, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed a proclamation declaring the week of June 29 – July 5 as National Beaches Week in Maryland. This is the second consecutive year that Governor Ehrlich has signed such a proclamation. National Clean Beaches Week, sponsored by the Clean Beaches Council, is part of a broader national effort to recognize Great Outdoors Month during the month of June.
“It is important that we recognize the value of our beaches to our environment, economy and quality of life in Maryland,” said Governor Ehrlich. “As Marylanders, we are fortunate to have many different beach choices between the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and our many rivers and lakes. From the sandy beaches of Assateague to the shores of Deep Creek Lake and everywhere in between, recreational beach opportunities abound. By protecting our beaches we ensure Maryland remains an exceptional place to live, work, and play.”
Beaches are a great way for the public to experience the wonders of the outdoors. Each year approximately 180 million Americans make 2 billion visits to ocean, gulf and inland beaches. Beach recreation and tourism are estimated to contribute over $640 billion annually to the U.S. economy (85 percent of all U.S. tourist revenues). The tourism and seafood industries fuel growing communities along America’s coast.
In addition to recognizing the economic and recreational value of Maryland’s beaches, Governor Ehrlich took time to emphasize the importance of clean and healthy shores. On June 19, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson visited Ocean City with Governor Ehrlich and presented Maryland with a $270,000 grant to improve water quality monitoring through the Maryland Beaches Program.
“Enhanced beach monitoring enables us to continue the State's efforts to improve water quality and ensure that people can continue to enjoy Maryland's beautiful beaches,” said Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick. “On behalf of Governor Ehrlich, I thank the EPA for both their generous grant and for supporting Maryland's efforts to keep our beaches safe.”
The Maryland Beaches Program, administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), is a statewide beach monitoring and notification program that develops water quality criteria to protect human health and the environment. Beach water monitoring helps identify what needs to be done — such as warnings and actions to prevent closings — when bacteria concentrations reach unsafe levels. The program works with local health departments to enhance beach water quality monitoring and improve the public notification process. MDE and EPA are also working together to develop new technologies to yield faster test results. With the new tests, local health agencies will be able to act quickly if a beach has to be closed to swimmers.
In October 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act and provided funding to enhance water quality monitoring at bathing beaches located in coastal states.
Last year, a partnership between MDE, EPA, and local health departments launched a Maryland-specific webpage on www.Earth911.org, which provides information regarding the current water quality conditions for local beaches. Visitors can access real-time advisories for beach bathing and review community-specific actions that help keep local beaches, coastal waters, lakes, streams, and rivers clean and safe.
The Clean Beaches Council is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization devoted to sustaining America's beaches. The Council was launched in the spring of 1998, the United Nation's "International Year of the Ocean." Since its inception, CBC has developed innovative approaches to coastal management and protection of human health and the environment.
Copies of the proclamation are available upon request. More information can also be found online at: