Ocean State swimmers may have no way of knowing when Narragansett Bay has dangerously high levels of fecal coliform near state beaches and town parks because the federal funding for the program is slated to be cut, according to this new report.
“This is a science-based survey that shows where and when we need help in making sure we are protecting the health of citizens, and avoiding negative impacts on the economy,” said Nicole Rohr, assistant director of the URI Coastal Institute, in a press release. “Failing to realize what needs to be monitored and assessed with regard to the protection and management of our natural resources will impose substantial costs to Rhode Island’s economy, quality of life, and public health.”
Beach water quality monitoring tracks, among other things, pollutants like fecal coliform at state beaches and town parks on Narragansett Bay and is funded by the EPA. It costs about $200,000 annually. The monitoring results instruct DEM on which beaches need to be closed to prevent swimmers from becoming sick because of high levels of fecal coliform, from faulty sewer systems and other pollution, in the Bay.
This summer there were more than 100 instances when swimming could have led to illness. Without this monitoring program there would be no way to know when water at state beaches and town parks is dangerous for swimmers.
RIF reported this summer that beach closures have a detrimental effect on Rhode Island’s summertime economy. Not knowing when a beach should be closed would have an even worse effect!