[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 157 (Wednesday, August 13, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 47154-47162]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-18739]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[OW-FRL-8703-9]


Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of Expected Changes to the Grant Allocation Formula for 
Awarding Grants Under the BEACH Act.

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SUMMARY: The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health 
(BEACH) Act authorizes EPA to award program development and 
implementation grants to eligible States, Territories, Tribes, and 
local governments to support microbiological monitoring and 
notification of the public of the potential for exposure to disease-
causing microorganisms in coastal recreation waters. EPA awards BEACH 
Act grant funds to eligible States, Territories and Tribes each year 
using an allocation formula to determine the amount of federal funds 
available for award to each State and Territory. EPA is considering 
changes to this allocation formula for the award of grants in 2010 and 
is providing States, Territories, and Tribes advance notice of expected 
changes.

ADDRESSES: EPA recognizes that reviewers may wish to express their 
views and should send them to the Docket. Submit your views, identified 
by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0539, by one of the following methods:
     www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for 
submitting scientific views.
     E-mail: OW-Docket@epa.gov.
     Mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; EPA Docket 
Center (EPA/DC). Water Docket, MC 2822T; 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20460.
     Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, 1301 Constitution Ave, 
NW., EPA West, Room 3334, Washington, DC. Such deliveries are only 
accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special 
arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lars Wilcut, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., 
NW., (4305T), Washington, DC 20460. Telephone: (202) 566-0447. E-mail: 
wilcut.lars@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

A. What Is the BEACH Act?

    The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act 
of 2000 amends the Clean Water Act to better protect public health at 
our Nation's beaches through improved water quality standards and beach 
monitoring and notification programs. The BEACH Act authorizes EPA to 
award grants to develop and implement monitoring and public 
notification programs for coastal recreation waters, consistent with 
EPA's required performance criteria. EPA published the required 
performance criteria for grants in its ``National Beach Guidance and 
Required Performance Criteria for Grants'' (EPA-823-B-02-004), on July 
19, 2002. Currently, all 35 eligible States and Territories operate 
beach monitoring and notification programs using BEACH Act grant funds.

B. Who Is Eligible To Apply for BEACH Act Grants?

    Coastal and Great Lake States and Territories that meet the 
requirements of CWA section 406(b)(2)(A) are eligible for BEACH Act 
grants. These are the States adjacent to the Great Lakes, the Atlantic 
and Pacific Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Commonwealth 
of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Tribes may also be 
eligible for BEACH Act grants. In order to be eligible, a Tribe must 
have coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches or similar points of 
access that are used by the public, and the Tribe must demonstrate that 
it meets the ``treatment in the same manner as a State'' criteria in 
CWA Section 518(e) for the purposes of receiving a Section 406 BEACH 
Act grant.

C. How Much Funding Is Available?

    After the first year of funding of approximately two million 
dollars in 2001, funding for the years between

[[Page 47155]]

2002 and 2007 has been approximately $10 million per year distributed 
among all eligible States, Territories, and Tribes. The actual grant 
total awards are $1,812,580 in 2001; $9,999,990 in 2002; $9,935,000 in 
2003; $9,891,000 in 2004; $9,870,000 in 2005; $9,803,100 in 2006; 
$9,900,000 in 2007; and $9,745,500 in 2008.

II. Current Allocation Formula

A. Why Did EPA Develop an Allocation Formula?

    BEACH Act grants are awarded annually to eligible States, 
Territories and Authorized Tribes for the purpose of running a 
continuing environmental program for beach monitoring and notification; 
therefore, it is appropriate to award these grants using an allocation 
formula rather than to award the grants competitively. EPA uses an 
allocation formula in other State and Tribal continuing environmental 
programs for which EPA awards grants. EPA chose to develop and use an 
allocation formula for BEACH grants to help ensure objectivity in 
allocations to the 35 eligible States and Territories. On an annual 
basis, EPA reserves $50,000 for eligible tribes from the total grant 
amount appropriated. To date, one tribe has applied for and received a 
grant award. Should other Tribes become eligible, EPA will reserve more 
funds for grants to Tribes.

B. How Did EPA Develop the Current Allocation Formula?

    In 2001, EPA, with assistance from the Association of State and 
Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA), held a 
conference call with States to inform them that EPA was developing an 
allocation formula for use in distributing BEACH Act funds. In 
developing an allocation formula, EPA wanted a method that distributed 
more funds to States and Territories that had a greater number of 
highly-used beaches, because EPA expected that monitoring needs would 
be greater in these States. EPA also wanted an allocation formula that 
used verifiable data for each of the various factors in the formula. 
EPA developed a series of possible allocation scenarios, assuming at 
the time that the funding would approach the full authorized amount of 
$30 million. EPA then had follow-up calls with States, obtained their 
views and input, and developed a proposed allocation formula. EPA then 
consulted with the States, the Coastal States Organization, and ASIWPCA 
on the proposed formula. Although some States and the contacted 
associations thought the allocation formula could be improved upon, 
they were generally satisfied with this approach because it used the 
most reliable data then available. There was not an agreement among 
parties on a better or preferred method.

C. What Is the Current Allocation Formula?

    The current allocation formula is used to allocate funds to States 
or Territories where the monitoring needs are greatest, that is, 
towards States and Territories with more miles of beaches that are open 
for longer periods during the year, and are used by more people. EPA 
considers the miles of beaches and the length of a beach season to be 
good indicators of the need for (and cost of) monitoring and 
notification. A State or Territory with many beaches open for the 
entire year would be expected to monitor more than a State or Territory 
with few beaches only open during the summer. EPA considers beach use 
(represented by the number of people who visit and use the beach) to be 
a good indicator of the importance of monitoring and notification to 
protect public health at beaches. Notifications of exceedance of water 
quality standards at beaches with more people would be expected to 
prevent more cases of illness, and thus reduce the overall public 
health risk nationally more than notifications at beaches that 
experience low visitation. This is consistent with the requirement in 
the BEACH Act that grantees ``prioritize the use of grant funds for 
particular coastal recreation waters based on the use of the water and 
the risk to human health presented by pathogens and pathogen 
indicators'' and the beach prioritization step in EPA's ``National 
Beach Guidance and Performance Criteria for Grants'' See CWA Section 
406(b) (2) A (ii) and EPA-823-B-02-004. Chapter 3 of this document 
describes the risk-based beach evaluation and classification process, 
including the evaluation steps and recommended information that a 
State, Territory, or Tribe should consider when ranking beaches.
    The current allocation formula sums three parts. The first part is 
a base amount for all States and Territories that varies with the 
length of the beach season. This base amount is scaled in $50,000 
increments from $150,000 for States with the shortest beach season to 
$300,000 for States and Territories with the longest beach season. 
States and Territories with long seasons are allotted two times the 
base amount of grant funds as those with short beach seasons (Table 1). 
The second part of the formula allots half of the total remaining funds 
(i.e. what is left after subtracting the total base amount) on the 
basis of the ratio of shoreline miles in a State or Territory to the 
total length of shoreline miles across the entire United States. For 
example, if a State has 4 percent of the total coastal and Great Lakes 
shoreline, that State would be allotted 4 percent of 50 percent (or 2 
percent) of total funds remaining after the Agency allotted the base 
amount (i.e. part one of the formula) to all States and Territories. 
The third part of the formula allots the remaining funds on the basis 
of the ratio of coastal population in a State or Territory to the total 
coastal population. For example, if a State has 2 percent of the total 
coastal and Great Lakes population, that State would receive 2 percent 
of 50 percent (or 1 percent) of the total funds remaining after the 
Agency allotted the funds for the first two parts. The following table 
summarizes the allocation formula:

                 Table 1--BEACH Grant Allocation Factors
------------------------------------------------------------------------
       For the factor--             The part of the allocation is--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Beach season length..........  <3 months: $150,000 (States and
                                Territories with a season <3 months
                                receive season-based funding only.)
                               3-4 months: $200,000.
                               5-6 months: $250,000.
                               >6 months: $300,000.
Shoreline miles..............  50% of funds remaining after allocation
                                of season-based funding.
Coastal population...........  50% of funds remaining after allocation
                                of season-based funding.
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[[Page 47156]]

    EPA reserves $50,000 from the total amount appropriated for grants 
to eligible Tribes. To date, one tribe has applied for and received a 
grant award. Should other Tribes become eligible, EPA will reserve more 
funds for grants to Tribes.
    The current allocation formula was originally developed assuming 
EPA would receive the full amount of funds authorized to be 
appropriated for grants under the BEACH Act ($30 million). At an annual 
appropriation level of $30 million, the beach season component of the 
formula ($8.15 million) would represent 27% of the annually available 
funds. At this funding level, the beach length and beach use components 
would each be $10.92 million, representing together 73% of the 
allocated funds. Since 2002, annual appropriations for BEACH Act grants 
have been approximately $10 million. At an annual appropriation level 
of $10 million, the beach season component (still $8.15 million) 
represents 82% of the appropriation, and the beach length and beach use 
components ($0.92 million each) together represent 18% of the available 
funds. Therefore, because the appropriation has been much lower than 
the authorization, the ratio of the different components of the 
allocation formula has shifted from being roughly equal, which was the 
intention, to being heavily dominated by the beach season length 
component. The result is that a State or Territory with a longer beach 
season would receive substantially more money than a State or Territory 
in a colder climate with a shorter beach season but with more beaches 
and more people using them.

D. How Are the Factors in the Allocation Formula Quantified?

1. Beach Season Length
    EPA selected beach season length as a factor because it represents 
the amount of time in a year when a government would conduct its 
monitoring and notification program. The longer the beach season, the 
more resources a government would need to conduct monitoring and 
notification. The Agency obtained the information on the length of a 
beach season from the ``National Health Protection Survey of Beaches'' 
for the States or Territories that submitted a completed survey. 
However, because Alaska was not included in the survey, EPA estimated 
the beach season length for Alaska on the basis of air and water 
temperature, available information on recreation activities, and data 
from the ``1993 National Water Based Recreation Survey.'' EPA then 
grouped the States and Territories into four categories of beach season 
lengths as shown in Table 2.

                            Table 2--Distribution of States by Beach Season Category
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    For beaches in--                                  The beach season category is--
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alaska..................................................  <3 months.
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine,          3-4 months.
 Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New
 Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon,
 Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington,
 Wisconsin.
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North           5-6 months.
 Carolina, South Carolina.
American Samoa, California, Florida, Guam, Hawaii,        9-12 months.
 Northern Mariana, Puerto Rico, Texas, U.S. Virgin
 Islands.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Shoreline Miles
    EPA wanted to use miles of beach as a factor because it is 
indicative of the geographical extent over which a government would be 
expected to conduct monitoring. The more miles of beaches, the more 
resources a government would need to conduct monitoring and 
notification. EPA did not have current beach mileage data in a format 
that could be used for the allocation formula. Therefore, EPA has used 
shoreline miles as a surrogate for beach miles in the allocation 
formula. Shoreline miles data overestimate beach miles in some States 
and Territories; however, EPA and States agreed that this is the best 
way to estimate beach miles as it was the best available data at that 
time. EPA used the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
(NOAA) publication, ``The Coastline of the United States,'' to quantify 
shoreline miles.
3. Coastal Population
    EPA wanted to use beach use as a factor because it reflects the 
magnitude of potential human exposure to pathogens at recreational 
beaches. In short, States and Territories can prevent more total 
illnesses when they notify the public of pollution problems at heavily-
used beaches than when they notify the public at less-used beaches. EPA 
presently uses the coastal population of counties (from the 2000 Census 
data) to quantify the coastal population that is wholly or partially 
within the State's or Territory's legally-defined coastal zone, as a 
surrogate for actual beach usage.

E. What Do States Receive Under the Current Allocation Formula?

    For 2008, the total available for BEACH Act grants to States and 
Territories was $9,745,500. EPA reserved $50,000 for authorized Tribes. 
Assuming all 35 States and Territories with coastal recreation waters 
apply and meet the eligibility requirements for implementation grants 
(and have met the statutory grant conditions applicable to previously 
awarded CWA section 406 grants), the allocation of the funds for fiscal 
year 2008 is the following:

             Table 3--Distribution of 2008 BEACH Act Grants
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               The year
                                                                 2008
              For the State or Territory of--                 allocation
                                                                 is--
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama....................................................     $258,390
Alaska.....................................................      147,650
American Samoa.............................................      297,460
California.................................................      514,720
Connecticut................................................      220,500
Delaware...................................................      207,730
Florida....................................................      526,320
Georgia....................................................      282,700
Guam.......................................................      297,930
Hawaii.....................................................      318,590
Illinois...................................................      240,290
Indiana....................................................      202,730
Louisiana..................................................      320,270
Maine......................................................      252,220
Maryland...................................................      266,900
Massachusetts..............................................      251,930
Michigan...................................................      276,210
Minnesota..................................................      201,190
Mississippi................................................      253,680
New Hampshire..............................................      201,450
New Jersey.................................................      275,480
New York...................................................      347,300
North Carolina.............................................      299,150
Northern Marianas..........................................      298,670
Ohio.......................................................      220,780
Oregon.....................................................      225,970
Pennsylvania...............................................      219,650
Puerto Rico................................................      324,080

[[Page 47157]]

 
Rhode Island...............................................      209,650
South Carolina.............................................      293,270
Texas......................................................      379,140
U.S. Virgin Islands........................................      298,510
Virginia...................................................      274,650
Washington.................................................      267,980
Wisconsin..................................................      222,420
------------------------------------------------------------------------

F. How Much Are States Spending Using the Current Allocation Formula?

    All 35 eligible States and Territories have developed and are now 
implementing a beach monitoring and notification program consistent 
with the requirements of the ``National Beach Guidance and Required 
Performance Criteria for Grants'' for the past 6 years. As a result of 
awarding grants to these States and Territories for the last seven 
years, EPA now has a clear picture of their spending patterns.
    First, States and Territories fund their beach monitoring and 
notification programs using funds awarded in the previous year. For 
example, a State will use its 2007 grant to fund 2008 beach monitoring 
and notification. The reason for this is the timing of the award of 
annual BEACH Act grants. EPA typically receives its appropriation 
between December and March of each fiscal year. Once EPA is aware of 
the total appropriation for BEACH Act grants, EPA publishes a notice of 
the availability of grants. States and Territories apply for the 
grants, and the grants are awarded by summer with a project period that 
generally covers the following summer. This is generally too late to 
fund the current year's monitoring, so States and Territories typically 
use grant funds awarded in one year to fund activities in the following 
year's beach season. Some grant awards are made by amending the 
previous year's grant award and extending the project period.
    Second, some States and Territories delay expending BEACH Act 
grants until the end of the beach season, or in a few situations, the 
following year. For example, a State may not expend the grant funds 
awarded in FY 07 until FY 08. Since this State would use funds awarded 
in 2006 for the 2007 monitoring, this means that some year 2006 funds 
may not be expended until year 2008.
    Overall, EPA expects that in any year, States and Territories could 
have some grant funds remaining from the preceding two federal fiscal 
years, but should have used and invoiced all the funds from the federal 
fiscal years prior to the preceding two federal fiscal years. For 
example, in FY 2008, EPA expects that States and Tribes could have 
funds remaining from years FY 2006 and FY 2007, but would not have 
funds remaining from years up through FY 2005. Table 4 shows the 
current status of funds as of July 22, 2008 remaining from the 
beginning of BEACH Act grants (2001) through 2005.

                          Table 4--Distribution of BEACH Act Grant Awards as of 7/22/08
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                    Total grant   % Grants funds
                                                                    Total grant        funds      un-invoiced FY
                              State                               funds received   remaining FY      2001-2005
                                                                   FY 2001-2005      2001-2005       (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alabama.........................................................      $1,108,677              $0               0
Alaska..........................................................         660,178         151,989              23
American Samoa..................................................       1,207,142               0               0
California......................................................       2,178,117               0               0
CNMI............................................................       1,270,938               0               0
Connecticut.....................................................         957,854               0               0
Delaware........................................................         902,802               0               0
Florida.........................................................       2,211,738               0               0
Georgia.........................................................       1,210,365               0               0
Guam............................................................       1,208,932               0               0
Hawaii..........................................................       1,354,901               0               0
Illinois........................................................       1,185,881               0               0
Indiana.........................................................         882,484               0               0
Louisiana.......................................................       1,471,127               0               0
Maine...........................................................       1,090,713               0               0
Maryland........................................................       1,153,021               0               0
Massachusetts...................................................       1,090,645               0               0
Michigan........................................................       1,151,672               0               0
Minnesota.......................................................         875,555               0               0
Mississippi.....................................................       1,088,902               0               0
New Hampshire...................................................         876,994           3,522              <1
New Jersey......................................................       1,189,459           7,477              <1
New York........................................................       1,493,065           4,998              <1
North Carolina..................................................       1,280,231               0               0
Ohio............................................................         960,193          52,842               6
Oregon..........................................................         972,673               0               0
Pennsylvania....................................................         821,766               0               0
Puerto Rico.....................................................       1,382,783         547,201              40
Rhode Island....................................................         911,670               0               0
South Carolina..................................................       1,255,358               0               0
Texas...........................................................       1,620,223               0               0
Virgin Islands..................................................       1,270,325          64,184               5
Virginia........................................................       1,258,772               0               0
Washington......................................................       1,153,133               0               0
Wisconsin.......................................................         965,890               0               0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 47158]]

    As Table 4 shows, 28 States and Territories have invoiced all funds 
from years 2001 through 2005, but 7 States and Territories have funds 
remaining from grants awarded prior to 2006. Most of those States and 
Territories have only a few percent of these funds remaining. However, 
Alaska and Puerto Rico have over 20% of their funds remaining from the 
years 2001 through 2005.

G. What Problems Occur Under the Current Allocation Formula?

    As discussed in section II.C., EPA developed the current allocation 
formula assuming that the BEACH Act grant program would be funded to 
its full authorization of $30 million. Approximately $8.15 million of 
the currently available $10 million in BEACH Act grant funds are 
allocated on the basis of what EPA expects is the minimum amount of 
dollars needed to establish and run a beach program, according to the 
length of a beach season in a State or Territory. As a result, the 
shoreline miles and coastal population factors are under-represented in 
the allocation formula, each receiving 9% of the total (based on $10 
million of available grant funds). The dominating influence of the 
beach season length can cause some issues. First, States and 
Territories with longer shorelines (and thus likely many beaches) 
receive fewer funds per beach than States and Territories with shorter 
shorelines (likely fewer beaches). This can result in a lower 
percentage of beaches monitored or less intense monitoring in the 
States and Territories with many beaches, which may result in less 
protection of public health that in other States or Territories.
    Second, States and Territories with shorter shorelines (likely 
fewer beaches) may receive more funds than they can effectively spend, 
thus leaving unspent funds intended for beach monitoring.
    Third, the current allocation formula uses miles of State shoreline 
as a surrogate for miles of beaches. For States with extensive 
coastline but fewer miles of beaches, this factor overestimates the 
miles of beaches, resulting in larger grant awards than perhaps 
warranted, and increases the potential for unused funds.
    Fourth, the current allocation formula uses coastal county 
population data provided by the Census Bureau as a surrogate for actual 
beach use. This results in a larger grant allocation for States and 
Territories with high coastal populations whether or not beach use in 
those States and Territories is high, and the potential for targeting 
funds away from beaches where the potential to prevent more illnesses 
is higher because of greater use there.
    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified these factors 
as shortcomings of the current allocation formula in its 2007 report on 
the beach program. GAO recommended that EPA allocate grant funds to 
better reflect monitoring needs and help States and Territories improve 
the consistency of their monitoring and notification activities.

III. Discussions of Expected Changes to the Grant Allocation Formula

A. What Process Did EPA Use To Analyze Potential Changes to the 
Allocation Formula?

    EPA first made public its intention to revisit the allocation 
formula in the Federal Register (FR) notice announcing the availability 
of fiscal year 2006 grants (71 FR 1744, 1746, January 11, 2006). On 
February 15, 2006, EPA convened a workgroup made up of EPA and State 
representatives to explore issues and problems with the current 
formula, and to discuss possible changes to the formula that would 
address these problems. Of the 35 BEACH Act eligible States, 25 
participated in the workgroup which met monthly. The workgroup 
carefully evaluated alternatives to the three component factors used in 
the allocation formula. The workgroup continued its work through May 
2007.

B. What Factors Did EPA and States Discuss?

    EPA and States discussed all three factors in the current 
allocation formula, including better ways to quantify these factors and 
to address the issues discussed in Section II.G.
1. Beach Season Length
    As discussed in Section II.D.1, this factor recognizes, all other 
things being equal, that the longer the beach season, the more funds 
that a State or Territory needs to operate a beach monitoring and 
notification program. Under the current formula, States and Territories 
with long beach seasons receive more funds than States and Territories 
with short beach seasons for this factor. As summarized in Table 1, 
above, the base funding level of the current grant allocation formula 
is based on the beach season length and ranges from $150,000 to 
$300,000.
    During the conference calls, the workgroup evaluated options for 
uniformly reducing the amounts associated with this factor by either 
$50,000 or $100,000 so that more funds would be ``available'' to be 
allotted based on the other two factors. Uniformly reducing the beach 
season length component of the allocation formula (i.e., by $50,000 or 
$100,000) affects the minimum amount of funding a State or Territory 
receives to implement its BEACH Act monitoring and notification program 
and would have the effect of shifting funds toward those States and 
Territories with longer shorelines and greater shoreline populations. 
For a $10 million appropriation for BEACH Act grants, reducing this 
factor by $50,000 (i.e. changing the values in Table from 150,000 to 
100,000; 200,000 to 150,000; 250,000 to 200,000) would result in a 
total of $6.5 million for this factor, or 65% of the funds. Likewise, 
reducing this factor by $100,000 would result in a total of $4.75 
million for this factor, or 48% of the funds distributed by the 
formula. Either of these changes would reduce the significance of the 
length of beach season in the allocation formula, and increase the 
significance of the other two factors, but would leave all States and 
Territories with enough funds to operate a basic beach monitoring and 
notification program. EPA estimates that this minimum base amount is 
$150,000 based on 1 full-time equivalent and other costs associated 
with the collection and transmittal to EPA of monitoring and advisory 
data.
    The workgroup also discussed the implications of reducing the beach 
season length component by $150,000. Most state workgroup 
representatives believed this could reduce the grant amounts at a $10 
million appropriation for States and Territories with fewer beach miles 
or beach use to a level below which the States and Territories believed 
necessary to operate a basic monitoring and notification program. As a 
result, the workgroup only considered reductions of $50,000 and 
$100,000.
2. Beach Miles
    As discussed in section II.D.2, this factor recognizes that the 
greater number of beach miles in a State or Territory, the more funds 
are needed to monitor beaches and notify the public at those beaches. 
From this component, States and Territories with more miles of beaches 
would receive more funds than States and Territories with fewer miles 
of beaches. Because there was no verifiable source of the total beach 
mileage for each State and Territory when EPA developed the original 
allocation formula, EPA used NOAA shoreline length as a surrogate for 
beach length.
a. Considerations About Total Beach Miles
    Beach mileage was a factor that received special attention from the

[[Page 47159]]

workgroup. The workgroup considered options for changing the surrogate 
for the beach mileage component from the current shoreline miles (taken 
from a NOAA data set) to a more precise measure. They started their 
discussions with a common view that actual beach miles would be the 
most preferable measure because it is a direct measurement, rather than 
a surrogate and is also available as a data field in EPA's PRogram 
tracking, beach Advisories, Water quality standards, and Nutrients 
(PRAWN) database. PRAWN is used by EPA to store information on State 
and Territorial beach advisories and closings. However, the workgroup 
found several issues with the current information in PRAWN on actual 
total beach miles.
    The workgroup noted significant differences in reported beach 
mileage due to several factors. First, States and Territories have 
different ways for computing total beach miles in the data that they 
input into PRAWN. Second, not all States and Territories had input 
complete information about beach length into PRAWN. Finally, the 
workgroup noticed what appeared to be inconsistencies between entries 
in PRAWN and similar data from other sources.
    As a result, the workgroup recommended that EPA improve the 
completeness and accuracy of the total beach mile data in PRAWN before 
considering using it in the allocation formula. EPA is continuing to 
compile and review for accuracy beach mileage information for all the 
BEACH Act States and Territories and expects to have more reliable data 
on beach mileage by mid-2009. EPA has designed this effort to address 
all of the data limitations discussed above, as well as any additional 
limitations or concerns that may arise during this effort. The effort 
includes using the same latitude/longitude data standards as used in 
other EPA and State databases and a quality assurance review of all 
data used to generate the beach lengths. EPA is conducting this effort 
with the States and Territories to ensure that beach mileage amounts 
are accurate and thus would be appropriate to use for BEACH Act grant 
allocation formula purposes in the future.
    Given their concerns about using current total beach miles in the 
allocation formula, the workgroup then considered whether current 
monitored beach miles (i.e. lengths of beaches where sampling occurs) 
would be a better measure to use. Lengths of beaches with no monitoring 
would not be considered. One advantage of using monitored beach miles 
data that the workgroup recognized is that this information is updated 
annually by States and Territories as they submit their beach 
monitoring and notification information to EPA. The workgroup favored 
using monitored beach miles because they were aware of the quality, 
accuracy and representativeness of this information. The workgroup 
reviewed the monitored beach mile data from PRAWN for the 2005 swimming 
season, which was the most current information at the time of the 
workgroup deliberations, and agreed that monitored beach miles is a 
reasonable substitute for total beach miles.
    The workgroup categorized monitored beach miles data into groups 
that were relatively close in magnitude. The workgroup observed that 
monitored beach miles tended to fall into five groups: less than 32 
miles, 32-63 miles, 64-249 miles, 250-500 miles, and greater than 500 
miles. Grouping information in this way has the effect of minimizing 
differences between the lowest and highest data points. EPA considers 
grouping data appropriate when there is a wide disparity between the 
high and low points of data.
b. Considerations of Alternatives to Beach Miles
    The workgroup evaluated several other alternatives for distributing 
grant funds based on the monitoring need for the length of beaches. 
These included the total number of Tier 1 beaches, the total number of 
Tier 1 and Tier 2 beaches combined (using EPA's recommended tiers), 
frequency of sampling or the total number of samples taken during the 
beach season at Tier 1 beaches, and total number of monitoring 
stations. In discussing other alternatives for characterizing beach 
length, the workgroup looked for ways to better represent the actual 
monitoring and notification need by using data of comparable quality 
between the States and Territories.
    A Tier 1 or Tier 2 beach represents the relative priority that 
States and Territories place on a beach for monitoring and 
notification. Consistent with the ``National Beach Guidance and 
Required Performance Criteria for Grants'' (EPA-823-B-02-004), States 
and Territories evaluate and classify beaches based on the potential 
risk of disease and to protect public health. For states that use EPA's 
recommended process to categorize or ``tier'' their beaches, a 
classification of Tier 1, for example, could indicate that waters are 
of such importance and/or receive such high usage that significant 
resources should be devoted to more intensive monitoring and public 
notification efforts for that area. In theory, a State or Territory 
with a higher number of Tier 1 beaches (or combination of Tier 1 and 
Tier 2 beaches) would have a greater need for monitoring, and thus 
would warrant more grant funds.
    However, the workgroup did not believe that using the Tier 1 or a 
combination of Tier 1 and Tier 2 beaches would be a good alternative 
for beach length. First, States and Territories classify their beaches 
differently. For example, some states count each point of access to the 
ocean as a beach whereas other states consider the length of beach when 
counting beaches.
    Second, States and Territories use different criteria for defining 
Tier 1 beaches. Some beaches are classified as Tier 1 beaches because 
they are highly used, and others are classified as Tier 1 because they 
have higher contamination levels. The workgroup also discussed creating 
a matrix of factors related to monitoring at beaches, and using this to 
quantify the component to allocate grant funds based on monitoring 
need. This matrix would include factors such as operating costs, number 
of monitored beaches, frequency of monitoring, and number of monitoring 
stations.
    The workgroup concluded that there are several issues with using a 
matrix of factors, and decided it would not be appropriate to use it as 
a surrogate for beach length. The first issue is that there is no 
current verifiable collection of these data and thus constructing a 
matrix would require a data collection effort that the workgroup did 
not believe could be completed with verifiable data.
    The second issue relates to using the frequency of monitoring as a 
metric. Some States and Territories would likely monitor more intensely 
if they had funds to do so. Therefore, a state's current level or 
frequency of monitoring does not necessarily reflect a need for 
monitoring but rather the resources available to monitor. Some 
workgroup members pointed out that collecting more water samples at 
more stations is not always necessary to ensure protection of public 
health. If a beach has a documented history of good water quality and 
officials well understand what is impacting water quality at a 
particular beach, then taking more samples at the beach may not provide 
any more information for determining the need for a beach advisory or 
protect any more people from illness. In addition, increased monitoring 
at a beach with good water quality could direct funds away from beaches 
that do not have such a good history and thus where additional 
monitoring would be

[[Page 47160]]

helpful and lead to preventing additional illness.
    Third, EPA expects that States and Territories have made decisions 
on the intensity of monitoring and notification priorities based on 
risk, the need to protect public health, and local circumstances. EPA's 
guidance in this area is in the ``National Beach Guidance and 
Performance Criteria for Grants'' EPA-823-B-02-004). Including 
frequency of sampling or number of sampling stations in the allocation 
formula could change this. EPA recognizes that States and Territories 
may want to reduce or increase sampling frequencies at individual 
beaches, focus on problem beaches, conduct intensive sampling efforts, 
or respond to community requests, and that States and Territories need 
to be able to make these decisions as needed during a swimming season 
without considering how it might affect the distribution of grant funds 
the following year.
3. Beach Use
    As discussed in section II.D.3, this factor recognizes that the 
greater the beach use in a State or Territory, the greater the 
potential to reduce the absolute number of people who get sick by 
monitoring and notifying the public at these beaches. States and 
Territories with beaches with more visitors would receive more funds 
than States and Territories with beaches with fewer visitors. Because 
there was no verifiable source of the number of people visiting beaches 
when EPA developed the allocation formula, EPA used 2000 census data of 
county coastal population as a surrogate for beach use.
    During its deliberations, the workgroup investigated different ways 
of finding a better estimate of beach use. EPA identified a reliable, 
and independently-verifiable data source: ``Current Participation 
Patterns in Marine Recreation'' (November 2001), which the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published as part of the 1999-
2000 National Survey of Recreation and the Environment (NSRE). The NSRE 
is the eighth in a series of national surveys that was started in 1960 
by the federal government to assess outdoor recreation participation in 
the United States. The survey was conducted as an ``in-the-home'' phone 
survey of 50,000 households across all ethnic groups throughout the 
United States. The survey provides a quantitative measure of the number 
of people who swim at marine beaches, including mixed fresh/saltwater 
in tidal portions of rivers and bays. Thus, the survey better reflects 
the swimming beach activity for marine States than does coastal 
population. The NSRE information overcomes the bias of using coastal 
population as a surrogate for beach use. However, the report does not 
include data for the Great Lakes States or the Territories.
    The workgroup looked for other sources of beach use or swimming 
information regarding the Great Lakes and Territories. Not finding such 
information, the workgroup then considered whether it could estimate 
the number of people who swim at beaches on the Great Lakes and the 
Territories by projecting a ratio between the NSRE report data and 
coastal population data for marine States and then applying this ratio 
to the coastal population for the Great Lakes States and the 
Territories. This process could replace use of the year 2000 coastal 
county population data on the distribution of funds in the allocation 
formula.
    However, application of those ratios produced results in some 
instances that seemed inappropriate to the workgroup. For example, 
applying the ratio to estimate the number of people swimming in the 
Chicago area was about 50% higher than the NSRE data for the New York 
City area. Applying the ratio to Puerto Rico gave a result that was 
only slightly higher than the NSRE data for California. EPA discussed 
the consequences of using the ratio to estimate the number of people 
swimming at Great Lakes and Territorial beaches with representatives 
from Great Lakes States and EPA Region 9 personnel representing the 
Pacific Territories. The representatives suggested that the ratio 
estimates should be based on known local information if available. 
Thus, EPA is now working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration to address the need for an update to the NSRE that would 
obtain information about Great Lakes beaches.
    As was the case with the beach length data, the workgroup 
categorized the beach use data to minimize the effect of any 
imprecision in the data or inconsistencies in reporting on the 
allocation formula calculations. By grouping the data into categories, 
beach use totals that are relatively close in magnitude would be 
considered to be the same magnitude. The beach use data tended to fall 
into four groups: fewer than 1 million swimmers, 1-4 million swimmers, 
4-8 million swimmers, and greater than 8 million swimmers.

C. What Potential Solutions Were Developed?

    From these evaluations of the components of the formula, the 
workgroup formed four options for a revised formula. The options were 
designed to overcome the two primary issues with the current allocation 
formula: the overly-large influence of the beach season component of 
the formula at the current level of appropriations, and the 
shortcomings of the surrogates for beach use and beach length. To 
reduce the influence of the beach season component, reductions in this 
component by either $50,000 or $100,000 per state were considered. To 
overcome the shortcomings of the current indices for beach miles and 
beach use, EPA considered monitored beaches as a surrogate for the 
beach season length factor and the NSRE data as a surrogate for the 
beach use factor. The options differ in that they investigate different 
combinations of reducing the beach season length and the effect of 
grouping monitored beach mile and NSRE use data within range categories 
as replacements for the surrogates as shown in Table 5. Grouping, as 
opposed to calculating an allocation based on discrete beach mile and 
use data, is more tolerant of imprecision in measurement while 
reflecting the effects of broader variation for this type of purpose.

                                 Table 5--Allocation Formula Options Considered
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           The beach season       The monitored beach     The NSRE data for the
             For option--                component is reduced      miles data for the    beach use component is--
                                                 by--                component is--
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1....................................  $50,000................  Grouped................  Ungrouped.
2....................................  $100,000...............  Grouped................  Ungrouped.
3....................................  $50,000................  Grouped *..............  Grouped.**
4....................................  $100,000...............  Grouped *..............  Grouped.**
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* 5 Groupings: less than 32 miles, 32-63 miles, 64-249 miles, 250-500 miles, and greater than 500 miles.
**5 Groupings: fewer than 1 million swimmers, 1-4 million swimmers, 4-8 million swimmers, and greater than 8
  million swimmers.


[[Page 47161]]

    All four options resulted in more States losing funding than those 
gaining funding. The 2006 BEACH Act grants were used as a baseline to 
evaluate each option. In 2006, the allocation calculated awards ranging 
between $150,000 and $528,410. In Option 1, the calculated grant awards 
ranged from $132,610 to $717,290. Nine States and one Territory would 
receive increased funding, with increases ranging from $13,665 to 
$331,211. Six States and one Territory would receive increases of more 
than 20%. Twenty-one States and four Territories would receive 
decreased funding, with decreases ranging from $2,458 to $170,949. Nine 
States would receive decreases of more than 20%.
    In Option 2, the calculated grant awards ranged from $127,430 to 
$687,770. Twelve States and three Territories would receive increased 
funding, with increases ranging from $888 to $159,354. Five States and 
one Territory States would receive increases of more than 20%. Eighteen 
States and two Territories States would receive decreased funding, with 
decreases ranging from $2,770 to $138,124. Four of those 20 States 
would receive decreases of more than 20%.
    In Option 3, the calculated grant awards ranged from $131,060 to 
$561,960. Fourteen States and three Territories would receive increased 
funding, with increases ranging from $769 to $114,510. Three States 
would receive increases of more than 20%. Sixteen States and two 
Territories would receive decreased funding, with decreases ranging 
from $7,120 to $140,951. Two States would receive decreases of more 
than 20%.
    In Option 4, the calculated grant awards ranged from $153,800 to 
$490,220. Twelve States and five Territories would receive increased 
funding, with increases ranging from $464 to $84,618. Two States would 
receive increases of more than 20%. Eighteen States would receive 
decreased funding, with decreases ranging from $275 to $118,216. One 
State would receive a decrease of more than 20%.
    In evaluating the options, EPA recognized that under any option, 
some States and Territories would gain funding and some would lose. EPA 
was most interested in options that would not result in many States or 
Territories losing significant funds such that their programs would 
possibly be unable to continue. Option 1 would result in nine States 
and Territories losing over 20% of their current annual funds, which 
could adversely affect their ability to carry out their program. Under 
option 2, only four States and Territories would lose over 20% of their 
funds, but more States and Territories would lose funds than gain 
funds. Under option 3, only 2 States would lose over 20% of their funds 
and the number of States and Territories losing and gaining funds were 
about the same. Under option 4 only one State would lose over 20% of 
its current allocation and the number of States and Territories losing 
and gaining funds were about the same. EPA prefers option 4. Each of 
the evaluated options maintained at least $150,000 for all States 
except Alaska, which was reduced to as low as $127,430 in option two.

D. How Did States React to the Options?

    During the course of successive meetings, State representatives in 
the workgroup made it clear that any significant reduction in beach 
grant funds could cause severe effects to many State beach monitoring 
and notification programs. State representatives identified effects 
including discontinuing monitoring at some beaches, especially those 
that are in remote areas; discontinuing funding to entire counties or 
Tribes that are subcontracted to monitor beaches, thereby reducing 
monitoring and notification at multiple beaches; and reducing the 
frequency of monitoring at Tier 1 beaches in high-population areas, 
thereby increasing the risk of missing high pathogen concentrations and 
thus increasing the risk to public health.
    The State representatives on the workgroup recommended that EPA 
maintain its current allocation formula (i.e., the ``no change'' 
option) for the current level of funding (which is about $10 million 
annually) to prevent significant State and Territorial program 
reductions or cuts. To many State representatives, the annual beach 
grant amount had become the financial foundation upon which they built 
their programs. In addition to funding the actual beach monitoring and 
notification, the annual beach grant supports other elements essential 
to maintaining a viable beach program: A State or Territory beach 
coordinator, the maintenance of a database of beach monitoring and 
notification, and the electronic transmittal of these data to EPA. Some 
State budgets are very tight, and funds for recreational water 
monitoring and notification are limited to the amount received in BEACH 
Act grant funding. These States, which may not have had any beach 
monitoring and notification program prior to the BEACH Act, are 
extremely sensitive to any reduction in their grant amounts. Some State 
workgroup representatives indicated that they might choose to opt out 
of EPA's BEACH Act grant program if their grant amounts are 
significantly reduced.

E. What Is EPA's Reaction and Why?

    EPA has reviewed the beach grant allocation formula and has 
recognized issues and some imbalance in the allocation of grant funds 
among States and Territories. EPA has sought input from the States in 
having them participate in a workgroup formed to review the allocation 
formula. EPA and the State workgroup identified and have reviewed a 
range of options for improving the formula.
    EPA has reviewed the data on the allocation of beach grant funds 
and concludes that the current formula provides a base amount of 
approximately $150,000 that is the minimum required to maintain a beach 
program that meets the requirements of the BEACH Act. The data indicate 
that the distribution of fund grant funds is for the most part 
equitable and that States are expending the grant funds consistent with 
program requirements. EPA recognizes, however, outstanding needs 
presented by long beach seasons, heavy use of beaches, and/or long 
coastlines with many beaches represent burdens that some State partners 
must manage.
    Our evaluation led EPA to choose an incremental process in 
considering changes to the grant allocation formula, starting with 
modest changes to address outstanding needs. The first step to be 
piloted by EPA in adjusting the grant process employs two techniques: 
(1) The re-allocation of older unexpended grant funds and (2) making 
changes to be employed effective in 2010 as to how these and any other 
additional funds over an annual appropriation of $10 million would be 
allocated to States and Territories.

IV. Future Change to the Grant Allocation Formula Under Consideration

A. What Change Is EPA Considering?

    EPA is today announcing that it is considering a change to its 
allocation formula that would shift funding from States and Territories 
that are not fully using all of their previously awarded BEACH Act 
grant funds to those States and Territories that: (1) Use their annual 
funds and (2) have more beach miles at which they could conduct 
monitoring and notification to increase public health protection. To do 
this, EPA would develop and use a new allocation formula based on beach 
miles and beach use to reallocate any unspent funds. EPA would also use 
this new formula in the future to allocate any increase in

[[Page 47162]]

appropriated BEACH Act grant funds above the $10 million current level.
    EPA would implement this approach by reviewing State and 
Territorial spending every October 1 and adjusting the allocation to 
certain States and Territories on the basis of the funds that these 
States and Territories have not yet expended. EPA would review EPA's 
Financial Database Warehouse to confirm the amount of outstanding funds 
reported. In making this determination, EPA will take into account 
those funds that have been committed through an appropriate State, 
Territorial or Tribal contract, inter-agency agreement, or similar type 
of binding agreement, but have not been requested for reimbursement, 
i.e., that are not showing as ``drawn down'' in EPA's Data Warehouse. 
As noted in section III.F., EPA recognizes that States and Territories 
have different financial management systems and that those systems 
could result in delayed billing to EPA, even though the States and 
Territories might have already expended funds to monitor beaches and 
notify the public. EPA also recognizes that States and Territories 
typically spend the previous year's grant award in any given beach 
season due to the timing of the availability of BEACH Act grants in the 
middle of the beach season. Therefore, to account for these factors, 
EPA is considering an approach that would reduce the new grant award by 
the amount of unexpended grant funds that are more than three years 
old.
    For the 2010 beach season, EPA would review State and Territory 
spending in October 2009 and determine how much grant funding from 
fiscal years 2001 to 2007 is still unspent by each State and Territory. 
EPA would identify the unspent amounts from 2001 through 2007 in the 
Financial Database Warehouse and compare them to the amount EPA expects 
to award in fiscal year 2010. EPA would then reduce the 2010 grant 
award for those States and Territories with unobligated funds from 2001 
through 2007 by the amount remaining. For example, in 2010, consider a 
State that normally receives $250,000 annually yet has $100,000 
remaining from grants awarded up to fiscal year 2007. Under the 
approach that EPA is considering, EPA would reduce the State's grant 
award for the following year's beach season by $100,000 (the amount the 
State has left unspent from fiscal years up to 2007), thus resulting in 
an award of $150,000 in 2010. The $100,000 not awarded to the State 
would be combined with unused grant funds from other States and 
Territories and re-allocated among the States and Territories that have 
fully used their funds from fiscal years up to 2007 using a modified 
allocation formula, described below.
    EPA is considering reallocating these additional funds according to 
a second, modified allocation formula composed of only two factors--
beach miles and beach use--to only those States and Territories that do 
not have remaining money older than three years old. EPA is working 
with States and Territories to obtain sufficient information to base a 
supplemental allocation formula on those two factors. As discussed in 
Section III.B.2.a, with the help of State and Territorial beach program 
managers, EPA is compiling and quality testing beach mile information 
for all the BEACH Act States and Territories and expects to have 
reliable beach mile data on the extent of beaches by mid-2009. EPA is 
also working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
to expand its research on beach use to Great Lakes States, and is also 
looking for information on beach use in the Territories. EPA will work 
with States to ensure effective implementation of the new allocation 
formula.

B. Why Isn't EPA Amending Other Parts of the Allocation Formula?

    EPA is considering the retention of the use of the surrogates EPA 
has used for beach mileage and beach use--i.e., shoreline miles and 
coastal population--as factors of the current allocation formula for 
the first $10 million in BEACH Act grant funds. As discussed in section 
III.D, States consider their current level of BEACH Act funding to be 
the financial foundation for their beach monitoring and notification 
programs. Because this funding has been relatively stable over the last 
six years, States and Territories rely on these funds to provide them a 
generally consistent level of funding for their programs. For many 
States, funds for recreational water monitoring are limited to the 
amount received in BEACH Act grant funding. Some States have indicated 
to EPA that they might choose to opt out of EPA's BEACH Act grant 
program if their grant amounts are reduced. For these reasons, EPA is 
considering retaining the use of shoreline miles and coastal population 
factors in the core allocation formula for the first $10 million of 
appropriated grant funds and not making any other changes to this 
formula.

C. How Would This Change Affect Current State Funding?

    Based on grant fund use as of 2008, EPA expects that most States 
and Territories will not be affected in 2010 because they currently 
have no unused BEACH Act grant funds that are more than three years 
old. The expected changes to the allocation formula will affect only 
those States and Territories that have unspent BEACH Act grant funds 
that are more than three years old. In 2008, only 7 States and 
Territories--Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Puerto 
Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands--fall into this category. As noted in 
Table 4, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York all have balances of 
less than 1 percent of their total BEACH Act grant funds more than 
three years old. EPA recognizes that Agency accounting practices 
contributed to the remaining balances in New Jersey and New York, and 
has worked to ensure that the oldest money is now invoiced first. Under 
the process EPA is considering, should any State or Territory in 2010 
have uninvoiced funds from FY 2001 through FY 2007, EPA would reduce 
their 2010 grant funding by the amount equal to this older money and 
redistribute these funds to the other States and Territories.

D. How Would EPA Involve States in Developing This Change?

    EPA intends to reconstitute the workgroup of EPA and State 
representatives to discuss the details for implementing this change to 
the allocation formula. EPA will also invite Territorial 
representatives to the workgroup.

E. When Would This Change Become Effective?

    EPA expects that this change will be effective for the awarding of 
the 2010 BEACH Act grants.

     Dated: August 7, 2008.
Benjamin H. Grumbles,
Assistant Administrator for Water.
[FR Doc. E8-18739 Filed 8-12-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6560-50-P