The innovative water monitoring program known as Project S.A.F.E. that gives
beach managers more up-to-date data to determine when to close beaches is
continuing and expanding this year.
The U.S. Geological Survey has announced that a new collaborative effort is
underway that expands Project SAFE (Swimming Advisory Forecast Estimate)
beginning this year.
Dr. Richard Whitman, the regional project manager at the USGS’ Great Lakes
Science Center, said the S.A.F.E. program helped the public understand the
water conditions; the new effort will inform people what the swimming
conditions are around the clock, displayed on a real-time basis online.
The project has been funded through the President’s Ocean Action Plan for
$700,000 in fiscal year 2008 and is expected to increase to more than $1
million annually in each of the following four years. The effort will draw on
the expertise of the USGS and other federal, state and local agencies.
Securing the funds was a major accomplishment given that the program was in
competition with others nationwide, Whitman said.
Next week, Whitman said, officials from a variety of agencies, including the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Purdue University, will begin the
local collaborate effort when they gather at the new Portage beach and at the
Ogden Dunes beaches. Scuba divers will also install monitoring devices for
use in the program.
Whitman said the program will involve world-class research. “I’ve never seen
anything quite like this before,” he said, describing next week’s gathering
as a sort of a “science party.”
The USGS announcement about the beach monitoring program states that
scientists will focus on improving water-quality forecasting by enhancing and
expanding models that help beach managers decide if beach advisories or
closures are necessary. They will continue work to identify processes that
influence the occurrence and abundance of pathogens; identify and evaluate
rapid methods of monitoring pathogens at beaches; and improve communication
with beach managers.
“Beach monitoring has raised significant and complex questions. Local beach
managers are looking to scientists with expertise in diverse fields to gain a
better understanding of their beaches,” said Dr. Shannon Briggs, Toxicologist
at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “This effort will
enhance our knowledge and improve communication between scientists and beach
strengthen this partnership, the Beach Health Initiative Steering Committee
was formed consisting of key partners that will provide input and guidance on
research direction for the project. This committee will continue the
communication that began at the joint 2005 EPA, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, USGS and Great Lakes Beach Association Beach
Health Research Needs Workshop, where beach managers provided input and
feedback on the information and decision making tools they needed to assist
them in protecting public health at their beaches.
Before Project S.A.F.E., beach managers relied on water testing data from the
day before. Under the S.A.F.E. program, more up-to-date data is now
available. The program has been in place at the beaches at Ogden Dunes, Wells
Street, Marquette Park and Lake Street.
For more information, see www.usgs.gov or