Beach Closure Data
To determine whether the water at the state's licensed beach facilities is safe for swimming.
The concentration of Enterocci bacteria in beach water samples is measured in cfu/100ml (colony forming units per 100 milliliters). Beach closures are based on exceedances of more than 60 cfu/100 ml in saltwater and in freshwater.
Sample data is available from 2000 to present.
Rhode Island Numbers
Historically, beach closures in Rhode Island have been closely tied to precipitation. Stormwater runoff from roads, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces transports contamination (including bacteria) to our fresh and salt-water bodies. As demonstrated by the graph above, the correlation between rainfall and beach closures appears to be changing since 2009, when Phase I of the Narragansett Bay Commission's "Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Program" came online. A system of tunnels constructed beneath Providence store combined sewer and storm water during heavy rainfall events. Once the storm has subsided, the combined sewer and storm water goes through a wastewater treatment facility before entering Narragansett Bay. Phase II of the Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Program became operational during the end of 2014. more
In addition, numerous municipalities including Barrington, Bristol, and Newport have installed stormwater improvement projects at and around their beaches. The City of Warwick has removed thousands of cesspools and installed municipal sewer connections in the Oakland Beach area. While some problems still exist, these cities and towns have seen improved water quality (and fewer beach closures as a result). Additional municipalities are in the process of installing systems to improve the quality of water at their beaches.
2020 Beach Season Closures