The Rhode Island DEM is announcing that several shellfish areas in Narragansett Bay have been closed due to inundating rainfall throughout Rhode Island Tuesday night.
The following areas are subject to a 10-day closure and are scheduled to reopen to shellfishing on Friday, Jan. 20, at 12 PM:
o Upper Narragansett Bay Area A (including Mill Gut)
o Upper Narragansett Bay Area B
o Lower Providence River Area E
Also, the following areas are subject to a seven-day closure and are scheduled to reopen to shellfishing on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 12 PM:
o Point Judith Pond Conditional Areas
o Greenwich Bay
o Mount Hope Bay
o The Kickemuit River
o The West Middle Bay shellfish area (GA9)
o The East Middle Bay shellfish area (GA3).
The emergency closures include water of Narragansett Bay north of a line running from approximately Quonset Point in North Kingstown to the northern tip of Conanicut Island (Jamestown) to the southern tip of Prudence Island to Carr Point in Portsmouth.
The intense storm on the night of Jan. 9 dropped 3.8 inches of rain at the TF Green monitoring station, with more localized totals of four to five inches in the Providence area in less than 24 hours. This excess rain combined with snow melt resulted in heavy runoff and caused several combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges. This runoff can convey bacterial contaminants to Narragansett Bay, prompting the shellfishing closures. Previous water quality observations indicate that the bacteria levels in the bay will return to normal, safe background levels with the above-mentioned seven to 10 days after the excessive rainfall. DEM will be confirming these background levels with sampling in the coming days.
DEM, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters to protect public health. This monitoring enables a quick response when conditions indicate a change in water quality due to natural events such as algae blooms or unusual weather events.
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