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Florida tops annual list of clean, safe beaches

WASHINGTON -- The Clean Beaches Council released its annual list Friday of U.S. beaches that meet its criteria for public safety and environmental quality.

Florida had the greatest number of clean beaches, at 29.

Eleven other states made the cut, including California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Clean Beaches Council is a non-profit group that invites beaches to undergo certification for its Blue Wave Campaign.

"Our Blue Wave Campaign is the only program of its kind which helps families and tourists identify beaches that don't pose a serious health or safety risk," said Bob Frederick, chairman of the Clean Beaches Council.

Under the program, beaches are invited to show that they meet 22 criteria for resort beaches and 14 criteria for rural beaches.

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Safety, environmental standards

The beaches that apply are checked and certified for one year as meeting those safety and environmental standards.

The criteria include meeting Environmental Protection Agency water standards.

Other standards for resort beaches include having "no algae or other vegetation materials accumulating and decaying on the beach."

Safety standards include having lifeguards and first aid officers on duty during high season periods.

Other standards for resorts include having clean toilet facilities, parking facilities, facilities for the disabled, and telephones within short distances of the beach.

The beaches must also "promote peaceful and protective coexistence" with sensitive plant and wildlife habitats.

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Beach areas must also have a system for warnings should the beach become "grossly polluted or unsafe."

Rural beaches, defined as remote and undeveloped, must meet similar standards for water quality, safety, habitat conservation, information and education, and erosion.

The Clean Beaches Council said its Blue Wave Campaign is voluntary and is supported in part by public and private funds including money from the National Park Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Corporate sponsors include AT&T and Coastal Living Magazine. The magazine is an AOL Time Warner Company, as is CNN.

• Clean Beaches Council

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