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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Delaware beaches again land distinction as No. 1 in nation

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CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Delaware beaches again land
distinction as No. 1 in nation
Cleanest water quality, another “Superstar” beach in Dewey
contribute to making the First State first for beach destinations

DOVER (July 2, 2014) – 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 US Environmental Protection Agency – and once again, as has happened every year since 2010, Delaware’s beaches topped the nation for cleanliness.

Among Delaware’s distinguished beaches, Dewey’s Swedes Beach was awarded the NRDC’s prized 5-star rating as a Superstar Beach for having perfect swimming water quality since 2009. This year, the NRDC designated 35 such beaches from among the coastal states. 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.

“In Delaware, we are blessed with many wonderful natural resources, including beautiful beaches that contribute to our high quality of life while supporting jobs and economic growth through our tourism industry,” said Governor Jack Markell. “We cannot and will not take this status for granted. Our position atop these rankings for four straight years is a testament to our commitment to invest in nourishing our ocean beaches and keeping their water clean.”

The NRDC made its rankings for clean beaches based on the US 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.” Fifteen 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 led the nation.

“I’m proud that Delaware has once again earned the distinction of having some of the best beaches in the country. Under Governor Markell and (outgoing) DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara’s leadership, clean water and conservation are a priority in Delaware,” said Senator 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’s beaches remain the best in the country not only because of their natural wonder, but because of the commitment of so many to protect them,” Senator Chris Coons said. “In Delaware, we know that protecting our beautiful coastline isn’t just important to summer fun, but to our local economy, too. Keeping our water clean, beaches healthy, and coastal infrastructure secure is a priority at every level, and I’m proud to do my part to help in Congress. Each year my family can’t wait to spend time at Delaware’s beaches, and I hope the NRDC’s announcement will help encourage other families to do the same."

"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 Congressman John Carney. “Millions visit our beaches every year, supporting jobs and local businesses in the process. The investments made by the state and federal government to preserve our coastline and maintain clean beach water are paying off and will continue to draw visitors to Delaware for many years to come."

"As a native Delawarean, it’s great to see our beaches once again rated the best in the U.S. for water quality,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “With the Fourth of July fast approaching, and families heading to the beach, it’s important to know the water quality on our Delaware beaches is clean and safe.”

Delaware attracts more than 7 million visitors each year, many of them drawn to the state’s scenic Atlantic beaches. According to a recent report on how integral beaches are to the state, The Contribution of the Coastal Economy to the State of Delaware, by Delaware Sea Grant College Program at the University of Delaware, the state’s coastal economy has a significant impact on Delaware’s overall economy – generating almost $7 billion annually, including over $700 million in tax revenue and supporting almost 60,000 jobs. 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 new DNREC Secretary David Small. “By continuing to steward our treasured natural resources – our pristine beaches prominent among them – we can protect and enhance this economic and environmental advantage for years to come.”

DNREC’s Recreational Water Quality Testing Program conducts beach monitoring, frequently sampling water quality, coastal hazards and other public health and safety concerns from Slaughter Beach to the Delaware/Maryland line. The program includes a notification system that alerts the public promptly should a swimming advisory or beach closing be necessary from a threat such as harmful bacteria. Up-to-date water quality results are posted on DNREC's website, and 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

Vol. 44, No. 227

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