River Watch

Monitoring the health of the watershed is the first and perhaps the most important job of any watershed organization, a role that NRPA takes very seriously. Since 1992, NRPA’s volunteer river monitors have tested water in Narrow River and its major freshwater inputs from May through October as part of URI Watershed Watch.

The number of testing sites has grown since the start of NRPA River Watch and we now monitor 14 locations, including stormwater abatement sites installed in the last ten years as part of best management practices by R.I. Department of Environmental Management and the Town of Narragansett.

Five or six times during the season, the monitors measure water temperature and dissolved oxygen, filter water for chlorophyll analysis by the URI Watershed Watch laboratory and collect samples for salinity measurement at each of the fourteen test sites. On six of those testing days, the monitors also collect samples for additional chemical analysis at URI.

Because of coliform bacteria, Narrow River is currently closed to shellfishing and, as late as 2008, was on the Rhode Island List of Impaired Waters. NRPA is working with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve the water quality of the Narrow River. (For more information on statewide monitoring of water quality and the determination of the Impaired Waters, visit the Water Quality page on the DEM website.)

In 2016, volunteers completed 25 years of water quality monitoring of Narrow River. The 2017 NRPA Annual Meeting featured a presentation on NRPA’s Narrow River volunteer water monitoring program by NRPA Board Members Dr. Veronica Berounsky and Annette DeSilva.

Veronica and Annette presented an overview of the data from monitoring sites that span the length of the river from Gilbert Stuart Stream to Pettaquamscutt Cove including findings from analyses of water quality trends, seasonality patterns, and storm events. Summaries of bacterial and nutrient level data were reviewed along with comparisons among the various river monitoring locations.

The talk provided an interesting perspective of how some past activities may have influenced water quality. If you have ever wondered about the health of the river and asked questions such as “Has the health of the river changed over years?” we encourage you to read the article and view the PowerPoint presentation.



CLICK HERE to see the full article on 25 years of River Watch Data.

CLICK HERE to see the Power Point presentation on 25 years of River Watch Data.