The State Water Resources Control Board voted 4-0 this morning to restore up to $1.9 million in funding for beach water quality monitoring programs in San Diego and throughout the state.

The funding had been axed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of state budget cuts.

In San Diego, the $300,310 program regularly monitors water quality at 55 locations along the county’s coastline from April 1 to Oct. 31, the peak beach-going season.

The state water board, California’s water pollution police, agreed to pay for that testing for as long as two years. The board approved funding this morning for one year; the board’s executive director can extend it for a second year.

Greg Cox, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said the funding was a stop-gap measure, because the money is coming from surplus bond funds. County officials from across the state who operate beach water quality monitoring programs are working to find a longer-term funding source, Cox said.

The county did not pay to continue funding when money was cut off in mid-October, leaving a two-week gap where beach water quality was not monitored. Would the county government itself fund the program if no other source was found in the future?

“That’s a good question. I don’t know that we have a good answer for you,” he said. “We’re looking at revenue streams that are dwindling and more and more programs that are not going to be fully funded by the state. I don’t see any relief on the short term.”

ROB DAVIS

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