RI Department of Health Launches New Beach Monitoring System

The state Department of Health offers new ways to check water quality, beach closures just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The following from a press release on the Department of Health Web site and from the new beach advisory site. 

With all beaches set to open this Saturday, the Rhode Island Department of Health has announced new tools to promote public health and safety during beach season. These include new Web pages featuring an interactive water quality map, as well as a public awareness campaign on responsible pet ownership.

At www.health.ri.gov/beaches, beachgoers can view current beach closures and advisories, as well as use an interactive map to view water sampling data and other information for any beach in the state.

The only current, nearby advisory is in Portsmouth — Portsmouth Park and Island Park. Under "Ongoing Beach Advisories" on the new beach site, the department reminds residents of ongoing reports of "sewage" in Portsmouth Park and Island Park. 

The Department of Environmental Management has documented evidence of human sewage in storm drain outfalls and groundwater seeps along the shorelines of Portsmouth Park and Island Park. Though available water quality data at nearby offshore monitoring stations indicate safe swimming conditions, pollution sources are variable and may cause localized areas of contamination. Use the shellfish closure areas as a guide for affected waters to avoid. In general, these areas include:

  • The Sakonnet River offshore of Portsmouth Park from Morningside Lane northeast to the point at Stonebridge
  • In Island Park, the southern portion of "Blue Bill Cove."

Additional Tools on New Beach Advisory Site

Beach managers can also learn how to apply for a beach license and find instructions for monitoring water quality. The new Web pages also include health and safety tips on topics like sun safety and keeping food safe.

"Summer is a time to get outdoors and enjoy Rhode Island's natural resources," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "Remember to bring sunscreen with both UVB and UVA protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, and re-apply generously after swimming and throughout the day."

Don't Forget, 'Scoop the Poop'

HEALTH's Web site also targets beachgoers with a new public health message this beach season — the department's "Scoop the Poop" campaign lets pet owners know that pet waste at the beach can pollute the sand and water, and encourages pet owners to pick up after their pets, dispose of pet waste properly and follow local rules for pets at the beach (State beaches do not allow dogs from April 1 to Sept. 30; town beach rules vary, but are generally posted at the beach).

The campaign includes radio advertisements in English and Spanish, as well as posters for beaches, dog parks and veterinary offices.

The Beach Monitoring Program at HEALTH works to protect the public from illnesses associated with swimming in contaminated fresh and saltwater bathing waters. The program collects and analyzes water samples from licensed beaches and works closely with beach owners and managers, cities and towns, and other state agencies to identify and eliminate sources of contamination. More information is available online.


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