Narragansett Bay

Catherine Welch / RIPR

We’re extending summer just a little longer this week with our series One Square Mile focused on Narragansett Bay. Now we offer a little poetry. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Catherine Welch caught up with Rick Benjamin, the state’s poet laureate, who wrote a poem about the bay for our series.

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Newport Historical Society

We continue our series One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay with a look at the bay’s role in the slave trade. Tens of thousands of slaves were traded on ships out of Narragansett Bay, more than any other part of North America.

Newport was at one time the largest slave-trading port in the region. To find out more, Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison met Newport history teacher Matt Boyle at Bannisters Wharf, which was built by a merchant involved in the slave trade. She asked him what it would have looked like in mid-18th Century.

Rhode Island Marine Archeology Project

This week, we’re exploring Narragansett Bay. It’s the focus of a regular series called “One Square Mile,” where we dive deep into a particular area of Rhode Island. We’re taking a look at the people and places who make the bay so vital to the Ocean State.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

This week we’re bringing you stories from our series One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay. We’re taking a deep dive into the bay that helps define the Ocean State. Its history. Its present. Its future. Now, a look at how the bay keeps us healthy, through the eyes of a few of the growing numbers of open water swimmers.

Gathering for an evening swim

We’re sitting on a ledge at Narragansett town beach. The sky is overcast, it’s early evening. Dozens of people are suiting up for a swim.

John Bender / RIPR

All this week we’re taking a close look at the Narragansett Bay, for a series we call One Square Mile.  Today we look at the heavy industry that relies on the Providence waterfront.  Specifically, where those big piles of coal, scrap metal and salt,  sit along the Providence River.

Tuesday, independent Providence mayoral candidate Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. details his plan to turn the industrial waterfront to mixed use development, with things like hotels and marinas.   As Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender reports, that's been the subject of a decades-long battle.

In our series One Square Mile Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay sits down with Vincent Mesolella, chairman of the Narragansett Bay Commission board, about how the commission takes care of sewage treatment and keeping water pollution out of the bay.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Narragansett Bay has encircled Rhode Island’s history and culture since the colonial era. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay kicks off our One Square Mile series on the bay.

Narragansett Bay was ours before we were Rhode Island. In 1524, the Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano sailed into the uncharted waters of the bay. He was impressed with what he saw, says Christopher Pastore, a professor at the SUNY at Albany and author of the new book `Between Land and Sea’ a history of the bay.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Environmental Reporter, Ambar Espinoza will host a public forum and conversation on the changing fisheries in Narragansett Bay.

This forum will be broadcast live on Thursday, October 9, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Rhode Island Public Radio: 88.1 FM/102.7 FM/91.5 FM and RIPR.ORG.

Cleanliness Of Narragansett Bay Improving Steadily

Jul 29, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

"Watershed Counts," a collection of information that focuses on the water quality of the state's beaches, reports that the health of Narragansett Bay is improving. However, the report also monitors the effects of global warming and pollution on the bay and has found that beaches are still being closed due to higher than average bacterial levels in the water. 

Nicole Rohr of the University of Rhode Island's Coastal Institute worked on the report. She says climate change is causing more unpredictable storms, which has led to more polluted runoff into the bay. 

Vincent J. Mesolella has been reelected chairman of the board of commissioners of the Narragansett Bay Commission, the agency that runs sewage treatment facilities in metropolitan Providence communities.

Mesolella, who has been chairman of 19-member commission since the 1990s, was reelected unanimously at a commission meeting yesterday, said Jamie Samons, the commission’s public affairs officer.

The Narragansett Bay Commission has started to re-evaluate the third and final phase of the combined sewer overflow project. The project aims to reduce the amount of untreated sewage and polluted runoff overflows entering Narragansett Bay and its tributaries. Federal officials ordered the overhaul to meet the federal Clean Water Act.

An Australian museum official will meet with Rhode Island archaeologists to discuss a way to partner in the search for the wreck of Capt. James Cook's ship Endeavor.


British explorer Capt. James Cook traveled on the ship Endeavor to the east coast of Australia in 1770, thus Australians consider Cook their founder and the Endeavor their founding ship.


The Endeavor changed hands and was renamed the Lord Sandwich, which sailed to Rhode Island only to be sunk in 1778 during a British blockade of Narragansett Bay.


Environmental agency directors and city managers focused on the urgent need to invest in wastewater infrastructure, stormwater management, and flood prevention at a meeting last night.

The nonprofit Save The Bay hosted its annual legislative briefing.  Executive director Jonathan Stone said many groups are working together to ensure the general assembly approves Gov. Lincoln Chafee's 75-million-dollar clean water bond.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is remarkably close to meeting a goal of reducing nitrogen discharged in upper Narragansett Bay by 50 percent. Upgrades at wastewater treatment plants have played a major role in helping meet this goal. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environment reporter Ambar Espinoza joined Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about what it means to reduce the amount of nitrogen we put into the bay.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

It’s been a decade since a big fish kill in Greenwich Bay grabbed headlines.  It prompted the state to take more action for a healthier upper Narragansett Bay. Local wastewater treatment plants responded and it turns out, the state is on track to meet the goal of cutting back how much nitrogen we put into Narragansett Bay. That’s great news for one quahog fisherman who’s made a livelihood from the bay for decades.

There’s no better season to go quahogging than the winter season for Warwick resident Jody King, even though he makes half as much money as he does in the summer.