Delaware beaches again top in nation for water quality

Putting it in World Series terms, Delaware has just made a “cleanest sweep,” for the fourth straight year, capturing the crown for the country’s cleanest beach water quality. The acclaim came from the National Resources Defense Council, the non-partisan international environmental advocacy group that annually assesses all beaches in the 30 coastal states.

The NRDC based its latest rankings on new and more stringent water quality parameters from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and once again, as has happened every year since 2010, Delaware’s beaches topped the nation for cleanliness.

Also, in its report, “Testing the Waters” in Delaware, the NRDC once again recognized DNREC’s Recreational Water Quality Testing Program as one of the most comprehensive in the nation.

The NRDC made its rankings for clean beaches based on the EPA’s beach action values (BAV) measurements, “a more protective threshold than the national allowable bacteria levels used in previous years to trigger beach advisories.”

A total of 15 of Delaware’s 24 beaches — almost two in three — had zero percent of water samples exceeding the BAV threshold. Statewide in 2013, there were 3 percent exceedances. Sampling from 17 selected beaches using the more stringent BAV threshold, Delaware had 2 percent exceedances, which put the state first the nation.

“I’m proud that Delaware has once again earned the distinction of having some of the best beaches in the country. Under Gov. Markell and [outgoing] DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara’s leadership, clean water and conservation are a priority in Delaware,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “Those efforts, combined with infrastructure projects and beach and dune replenishment, have helped make our coastline a great tourist destination in America and a strong part of Delaware’s economy.”

“Delaware has a well-deserved reputation for having some of the best beaches in the country. That’s been confirmed again this year with the state’s fourth consecutive top rating in beach water quality,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney.

That report also found that beach tourism provides more than 10 percent of the state’s total employment, taxes and business production.

“With the state once again rated No. 1 nationally for beach water quality and one of Dewey’s beaches recognized as a ‘Superstar Beach’ — and through the continued success of our nationally-recognized beach nourishment projects — Delaware has really emerged as a premier beach destination, “ said newly installed DNREC Secretary David Small.

Up-to-date water quality results are posted on DNREC’s website, at http://apps.dnrec.state.de.us/RecWater/ and are also available by calling DNREC’s toll-free, 24-hour “Beach Hotline” at 1-800-992-WAVE (9283) or by signing up to receive Beach Monitoring updates at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Pages/DNRECLists.aspx.