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Calif. Bond Funds Tapped For Beach Water Testing

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Aired 11/3/10

The State Water Board voted this week to use nearly $1 million in California state bond money to continue testing for bacteria at hundreds of beaches next year.

The State Water Board voted this week to use nearly $1 million in California state bond money to continue testing for bacteria at hundreds of beaches next year.

The testing determines whether the water may be harmful to swimmers, surfers and divers. Signs are posted if the water is contaminated.

This is the second time the water board has provided funds for water monitoring at California beaches.

"So what this money is intended to do is to ensure that during the times of year when swimmers are most likely to be affected there will continue to be monitoring at those beaches that will be most visited," said Marco Gonzalez with the Encinitas-based Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. “But a long-term dedicated funding source is needed.”

He said limited water-quality testing can create a significant health risk for millions of people who swim in the ocean each year.

State and county budget cuts have reduced the money available for beach-water quality monitoring.

Two years ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed $1 million in the state budget for ocean water testing.

Since then, emergency bond funds and stimulus dollars have been used to continue the program.

Gonzalez said California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown and the incoming state Legislature will determine whether the state budget includes money for ocean water quality testing.

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