25 Years of River Watch Data: Trends and Findings

Narrow River Water Quality: Trends and Findings Spanning a Quarter Century!


CLICK HERE to see the full article about Narrow River Water Quality over 25 years of monitoring.

CLICK HERE to see the full PowerPoint presentation.

By Annette DeSilva and Veronica Berounsky, Ph.D.

In 1992, NRPA kicked off their River Watch program and since that time volunteers have taken measurements and collected water samples to help us assess the water quality of the Narrow River. In 2016, NRPA reached the 25-year milestone of their River Watch program. To mark the event, we have compiled and plotted all of the data to examine the water quality trends and to assess the condition of our River. A presentation was made at the 2017 NRPA Annual Meeting that highlighted the trends and findings spanning the past quarter century. The full PowerPoint presentation is available by clicking here. In this article, we will summarize many of the findings that were presented.

In the early 1990’s, water quality was on the minds of many. Sewers had been installed in Middlebridge and they were starting to be installed along the Narragansett side of the River. However, stormwater from the watershed neighborhoods was still draining directly into the River. NRPA had a strong interest in starting a volunteer water monitoring program because we were aware of high bacteria levels. Also, since there were no industries along the river (obvious point sources), a watershed watch approach to studying water quality was desired.

In 1992, NRPA’s “River Watch” program officially began with 10 monitoring locations.

Narrow River is seven miles long and its watershed is located in North Kingstown, South Kingstown, and Narragansett. The original sites (NR 1 – 10) were picked so that they would span the length of the river from Gilbert Stuart Stream in the north to Pettaquamscutt Cove in the south. The site at Sprague Bridge is closest to the mouth of the River. Over the years we added four additional sites. In 1996, Mettatuxet Brook (in Mettatuxet) was added in response to land development demand. In 2000, Mumford Brook (near Narragansett Elementary School) was added because a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) study identified this as an area of concern. Sites were added at Lakeside Rd and Lakeside Outfall (in Edgewater) in 2004 because they were near an area where a stormwater management plan would be implemented. With this data, we hope to observe pre- and post-management results.

The River Watch monitoring season runs from May to October each year. Every two weeks during the season, volunteers measure temperature and dissolved oxygen. They also collect samples for salinity and chlorophyll that are analyzed by the URI Watershed Watch Lab. Once a month, samples are also collected for bacteria, nutrient, and pH analysis. The lab analysis services are provided by URI’s Watershed Watch office, which also trains all new volunteers, supplies the monitoring equipment, compiles data into the database, and creates charts and graphs.

This article is continued in full here.