Two of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers intend to push for extending a program that provides about $10 million a year to test ocean water quality.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and Sen. Bob Menendez, both Democrats, want to reauthorize the Beach Act that was established 15 years ago.
For the past few years the president’s budget plan has not included money for it, but a congressional resolution has provided the funding.
The reauthorization bill would strengthen current requirements, Pallone said Thursday.
“It would actually allow for grants to go to states and to local communities so they could track the sources of pollution and prevent it in the future,” he said during a stop in Long Beach.
The legislation would also require more rapid water testing so the results are available in a few hours, Cindy Zifp, the executive director of Clean Ocean Action,.
“Right now with the test results, you find out today that yesterday you were swimming in sewage. That’s not good enough. You need to know on day one the waters are safe enough for you to swim in,” Zipf said. “A day at the beach shouldn’t become a day at the doctor’s.”
Extending the Beach Act to ensure the coastal environment is clean also will have economic benefits, Menendez said. New Jersey’s tourism industry generates $38 billion a year and directly supports more than 300,000 jobs.
“Whether it is families who for generations have enjoyed their summer vacations here, the fishermen whose livelihood depends on these waters, or the small-business owners who have built a thriving shore economy, the heart of our state depends on keeping our coastline pristine and as beautiful as it is now,” he said.