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Appendix II. Maine Healthy Beaches Program Risk Assessment Matrix

Appendix II. Maine Healthy Beaches Program Risk Assessment Matrix (Draft)

Scope and Application

A Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM) is a preliminary assessment of beach characteristics, activities, and water quality. The

Maine Healthy Beaches (MHB) Program uses this risk-based ranking system to assess and classify coastal beaches and their management areas. This assessment helps beach managers gain a better understanding of the actual and potential pollution sources impacting the beach. The RAM will help define the typical “worst-case scenario” (i.e., when the risk of pollution is the greatest) resulting in unsafe bacteria levels at coastal swim beaches. Each beach or beach management

area (BMA) is ranked based on a points grading system. A higher point score indicates a beach management area with a greater risk of bacterial pollution compared to areas with a lower point score. The number of points and associated rank- ing will help determine the beach’s “tier”1 classification, and provide guidance on the best management course of action (monitoring frequency, posting a precautionary advisory following rainfall, the need to implement a more thorough sanitary survey, etc.).

The purpose of the RAM is to:

  • Provide a preliminary assessment of potential and actual sources of bacterial pollution.

  • Assist beach managers in making well-informed beach management decisions related to monitoring, assessment, and public notification of beach water quality conditions.

  • Work in conjunction with routine monitoring, special studies, and sanitary survey work to build a profile of each BMA.

  • Determine the need for an in-depth sanitary survey of the shoreline, adjacent watershed area(s), and offshore.

Beach Management Areas A beach management area (BMA) is an entire beach or segment of a beach that is managed independently from other

segments or area beaches. Implementing separate BMAs for large or heterogeneous beaches allows management deci- sions to be made for a specific region of the beach, rather than treating the whole beach as one unit. Each beach manage- ment area has its own beach sign(s) and is listed separately on the MHB Web site.

An initial RAM of the entire beach will help managers determine if separation of the larger beach area is warranted. Pos- sible reasons to implement separate BMAs include, but are not limited to:

    • The beach is heterogeneous and conditions vary considerably (e.g., a river mouth or storm drain on the north end of the beach increases the likelihood of bacterial pollution compared to the southern end, or an area where water quality results are not consistent throughout the entire length of beach).

    • Monitoring and public notification of conditions are not practical or feasible for the entire beach.

    • Sections of the beach not promoted for public use, including areas that are privately owned, not serviced by lifeguards, lack public access, or deemed unsafe for recreational purposes.

    • A section of the beach is heavily used by the public compared to other areas.

    • The beach has historically informal names or sections known to the public.

  • 1.

    The MHB Program ranks coastal beaches into separate tiers or categories based on criteria for program participation, water quality history, beach usage, risk of pollution, etc. See MHB Tiered Monitoring Plan.


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