The Washington State Beach Environmental Assessment, Communication and Health (BEACH) program consists of county and local agencies, tribal nations, and citizen scientists who monitor high-risk beaches for bacteria. Beaches are considered high-risk when they have a lot of recreational users and are located near potential bacteria sources. Monitoring can indicate pollution from sewage treatment plant problems, boating waste, malfunctioning septic systems, animal waste or other sources of fecal pollution.
Led jointly by the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Health, the BEACH program aims to reduce the risk of disease for people who play in saltwater. To do this, participants monitor bacteria levels at popular, high-risk beaches. They then notify beachgoers when bacteria results are high or when a known pollution event, such as a sewage spill, has occurred. The program also educates the public about the risks associated with polluted water and what people can do to reduce that risk.