WXXI Local Stories
6:08 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Schumer Pushes for Federal Funding to Clean Up Ontario Beaches

Credit Carlet Cleare / WXXI News

Senator Charles Schumer is pushing to reinstate millions in federal funding to help keep polluted beach water safe for swimmers.

While in Rochester on Tuesday,  Schumer says he's fighting to restore $10-million dollars to the BEACH Act, which was recently cut from the 2014 budget. He says Monroe County received $7-thousand from that grant. Since it's been dissolved, taxpayers have been footing the cost for monitoring water quality and pollution.

The Senator also announced his support of legislation that would help clean up Monroe County's three beaches.

"We finally have a comprehensive program that wouldn't just  deal with one  issue at a time while the beach is closed [be]cause of another issue," Schumer says.

It's a two-pronged $475-million program. They include the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which would help clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species and keep watersheds and beaches clean. The other is the Great Lakes Legacy Program, which would remediate contaminated sediment.

"With these two crucial pieces to the puzzle, we could solve this," Schumer says. "It's time we did. Beaches are beautiful. They are a great resource. They attract people from far away to come eat in our restaurants, walk around the waterfront and go to the shops. We need the money, and we're going to fight to get it."

Schumer says the county would receive tens of millions of dollars, if the legislation is passed. Monroe's County Executive Maggie Brooks notes the county hasn't had access to that type of money to fix Ontario Beach's algae problem.

Ontario Beach has been rated one of the worst beaches in the country because of its problems with bacteria. And Lake Ontario has been designated one of 31 national EPA "Areas of Concern".

Both Durand and Ontario Beaches were closed on Tuesday.