Officials fret over beach testing funding

Feb. 25, 2012 at 1:12 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A proposal by the Obama administration to eliminate funding for beach water testing puts every beach-goer at risk, Florida officials said.

Florida Health Department officials said Obama's proposal includes a $9.9 million budget cut for testing waters along the nation's beaches that would allow Florida's testing program to remain intact, the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reported Saturday.

This year, the federal government provided $552,000 of the $740,000 Florida uses to test beach water, state health officials said.

Department spokeswoman Jessica Hammonds said decisions about whether beach water testing is a priority will have to be made by department workers at the county level, the Sun Sentinel reported.

"The health of the 14 million Florida beach visitors every year is very important and will be given serious consideration in prioritizing public health services and programs," Hammonds said.

"Eliminating the beach grant program puts every beach-goer's health at risk because they won't know when or where it's safe to surf or swim," said the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group concerned with coastal issues.

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