Trump administration puts Shore water testing funds on chopping block

Forget sharks. Beachgoers at the Jersey Shore might have another reason to worry about going into the water.

The Trump administration has put funding for water testing at beaches on the chopping block, the Asbury Park Press reported.

The tests look for enterococcus, a bacterium usually found in intestines of animals and humans and a sign of fecal contamination, more commonly known as poop. The pathogen can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, rashes, and more, the news site said.

Proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would eliminate $9.5 million in funding for testing established by the 2000 Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act, or BEACH Act.

Last summer, New Jersey beaches were under advisory or closed 134 times after testing found high bacteria counts. It was the worst season in five years, the Asbury Park Press reported.

One week of testing revealed that bacteria were too rampant for safe swimming at 19 beaches in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The cuts may be a classic example of pay now or pay for it later.

"There is a clear connection between protecting people and our beaches, and a thriving coastal economy," Zach Lees, an attorney for Clean Ocean Action, told the paper.

New Jersey's Shore economy generated $44.1 billion for the state coffers last year, according to the paper.

"Keeping the Shore feces-free is vital for its economy. Yet we only have enough funding to test through this summer,"  the Star-Ledger said in an editorial carried on NJ.com.   The editorial noted that the Obama administration also sought to cut the funding in the past, but it was restored by Congress.


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