Ida’s heavy rainfall leads to shellfishing & beach closures

Despite upgrades in recent years, heavy rain can still overwhelm wastewater treatment systems leading to water quality & bacteria concerns.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The rain has stopped, but stormwater runoff from the remnants of Hurricane Ida is leading to water quality concerns that could still put a damper on your Labor Day weekend plans.

David Borkman is an Environmental Scientist focusing on shellfish water quality at Rhode Island DEM.  Borkman says, “A lot of people like to shellfish recreationally.  It’s a business for many people.  It’s an important economic driver in the state in many ways.  So, the timing was not good on this storm.”

Despite wastewater treatment improvements over the years, big storms can still overwhelm the system, sending untreated contaminated stormwater right into Narragansett Bay.

Borkman says, “Shellfish are filter feeders, and when contaminants go into the water, they can retain in their filter feeding.  And if a person eats them, you get that dosage of whatever the contaminant is.”

That could make you sick.  As a result, many shellfishing areas in and around Narragansett Bay are closed:

  • Greenwich Bay, several coastal salt ponds, and the area from Quonset Point to Prudence Island and Portsmouth through September 9th.
  • Upper Bay Conditional Areas A and B through the 12th.
  • Mount Hope Bay and the Kickemuit River until further notice.

Borkman says, “An occasional closure after an extreme event like this giant rainstorm is just part of the system at work.  In 5 or 7 days, things will be back to normal, and hopefully we don’t get another huge rainstorm again.”

In addition, if you were thinking of getting in one more beach day, the following beaches are closed for swimming:

  • Easton’s Beach
  • Scarborough State Beach (North & South)
  • New Bedford City Beaches
  • Kent County YMCA Lower Pond
  • Irons Homestead
  • Dyer Woods Campground Beach

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