The Louisiana Department of Health’s water quality monitoring at Gulf Coast recreational beaches is getting a boost through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Under a cooperative agreement through the EPA, the Department recently received a $40,836 grant to help assess and plan for formations of excess algae, or algal blooms, which can be toxic. This funding will help LDH test for the presence of toxins in harmful algal blooms at coastal recreational beaches and develop plans to deal with the blooms, which are occurring more frequently in recent years.

“As a coastal state, from seafood to recreation, the livelihoods of many of our residents rely heavily on the safety of our beaches. With this grant, the Department of Health’s Beach Monitoring Program can increase water quality monitoring to help us identify algal blooms and keep our residents, visitors and pets safe,” said Justin Gremillion, Chief of Specialty Operations for the Office of Public Health’s Sanitarian Services.

Louisiana has seen algal blooms occurring with more frequency in recent years, but they are a problem across the U.S. Algal blooms include red tides, blue-green algae and cyanobacteria, all of which need sunlight, slow-moving or stagnant water, and nutrient pollution to form. Lawn care and farming, with the nutrients that are applied to the soil, can make the problem worse and lead to more frequent blooms. Algal blooms can be toxic, so pets and people should avoid water that is green, scummy or smells bad.