Narrow River Preservation Association
Thursday, August 24, 2017
NRPA: Working since 1970 to preserve, protect, and restore Narrow River and its watershed.

NRPA River Watch

We Need Volunteer Monitors for River Watch

The Narrow River Preservation Association is looking for volunteers to join their River Watch program. Volunteering to be a water quality monitor is a great way to learn more about the water quality of the Narrow River, and at the same time provide a much-needed service to NRPA. The water quality information collected by our volunteers has been used to make decisions that improve and protect the health of local waters.

No previous experience in water quality monitoring is required. Volunteers come from all walks of life and are of all ages, occupations, educational backgrounds and interests. It can be a great way for teens to gain community service hours.

The monitoring season runs from May until October. Each volunteer is matched to a specific river location that they will be in charge of monitoring. Some locations can be monitored from the shore while other locations require a boat or canoe for monitoring. Every two weeks, on a day of their choice, volunteers monitor temperature, algae concentration, salinity, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. On several designated dates, volunteers collect water samples that are analyzed at URI for nutrients, acidity and bacteria.

Training Sessions
All new volunteers receive training from the University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch personnel. Manuals and all necessary monitoring equipment are provided.  

Classroom Training - New volunteer classroom training is recommended and will take place on Sunday, April 2nd at 1pm and on Wednesday, April 5th at 6pm, both at URI's Coastal Institute in Kingston.  You can choose the day/time that best fits your schedule.  Pre-registration is recommended.

Field Training - Attendance at one field training session is required.
The training will be offered on the dates below (please note that the schedule is tentative and may change as we get closer to the season):
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – 9 am and repeated at 1 pm;
Saturday, April 29, 2017 – 9 am and repeated at 1 pm;

Pre-registration for field sessions is required. The training does not cost anything, but in order to be sure that there is adequate materials for everyone please register by contacting the URI Watershed Watch Office at: 401-874-4552 or 401-874-2905. 

Additional details about volunteer monitoring and how to join the program is available on the URI Watershed Watch website:

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.

In the first year of River Watch, Bob Schelleng (left)
and Stephen Vincelette monitor water in the
Lower Pond near Pettaquamscutt Lake Shores.

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. (View a map of the watershed with the testing sites identified, NR1 through NR14.)

Fourteen 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. On six of those testing days, the monitors also collect samples for additional chemical analysis at URI.

Monitor measures dissolved oxgen in
water collected at Lacey Bridge

In this 2008 photo, Veronica Berounsky deploys
a deep water sampler in the Upper Pond to collect
water from Upper Pond for lab analysis.

River Watch Volunteers Needed

River Watch Database

Why We Monitor Water Quality

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.)




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NRPA is a member of the R.I. Rivers Council and has served as the Designated Watershed Council for Narrow River since 2002.


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