Headed for the Beach? Water Quality's Improving.

Jul 5, 2013

A new report about Rhode Island’s beaches finds steady improvements in the water quality since 2008. Health officials closed beaches for fewer days last year than it did in 2011, and more improvements are in the works.

Less than 5% of water samples at Misquamicut State Beach exceeded national bacterial standards in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Natural Resources Defense Council finds in its annual beach water quality assessment that swimming could be getting safer at many of Rhode Island’s nearly 240 beaches. The report tracks the number of days officials found unacceptable bacteria levels at the state’s licensed beaches in water quality samples. In 2012, five percent of all the samples taken exceeded healthy bacteria amounts. That’s down from seven percent and eight percent in the two preceding years.

The main causes of beach water pollution in Rhode Island come from overflows from sewage treatment plants and polluted storm water run-off. But in the past couple of years there have been several infrastructure projects to fix those problems– including sewer system upgrades in Narragansett Bay and storm water run-off filters in Bristol. Some water quality threats still remain, though. And beachgoers should know that swimming in contaminated water can make you sick. Rhode Island posts beach closure notices and advisories on the Department of Health website.