[Source: EcoRI News]

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staffBeaches are a critical component of Narragansett Bay’s recreational appeal, and beach closures reduce the quality of life for both residents and tourists. Pathogens in recreational waters and the resulting beach closures are primarily due to contaminants in wastewater and stormwater, according to the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program.

Tracking beach-closure events in Narragansett Bay serves as an indicator of public-health protection and of ecosystem health. This indicator, developed in collaboration with state health departments, classifies marine beaches as “High Concern” or “Low Concern,” based on the level of use, monitoring frequency and historic rates of closures.