Scarboro Beach south Rhode Island

Senator Reed Secures $210K to Keep Rhode Island Beaches Safe and Clean

With beach season in full swing, the Ocean State’s pristine beaches are crucial for both the local economy and the environment. To ensure these natural treasures remain clean and healthy, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced an additional $210,000 in federal funding through the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act grant. This grant will enable the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) to continue its vital work of monitoring water quality at beaches across the state.

Rhode Island boasts over 400 miles of coastline, and RIDOH’s Beach Monitoring Program oversees water quality testing at more than 60 licensed beaches during the summer months. The goal is to guarantee that the water is safe for swimming, thereby protecting both public health and the local tourism industry.

“Clean, safe beaches are essential to both our economy and public health,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. “I helped support, pass, and fund the BEACH Act because it helps states and local communities team up to protect swimmers and our waters by collecting, testing, and posting water quality sample results. These federal BEACH Act funds are essential for Rhode Island’s Beach Monitoring Program. There is an old saying: ‘What gets measured gets managed.’ This program ensures people are informed when temporary beach closures are warranted, and it is a smart investment in protecting public health and the health of our waterways.”

Since 2001, Senator Reed has spearheaded efforts to secure $4.9 million in BEACH grant funds for Rhode Island, including $1,060,060 over the last five years. These funds have been crucial in testing beach waters for harmful bacteria and ensuring public safety, despite efforts by the Trump Administration to eliminate funding for the program.

Beach closures occur when water testing reveals harmful contaminants exceeding safe levels. Last year, Rhode Island experienced a total of 246 beach closure days, a significant improvement from 503 closures in 2003. Contaminations often result from urban runoff or sewage overflows following heavy rainstorms. Health officials issue temporary beach closures if Enterococci bacteria levels exceed 60 colony-forming units per 100 ml, reopening the beach once water quality improves.

When a beach closure is necessary, RIDOH and its partners act swiftly. Within 24 hours of detecting unsafe water conditions, they post signs at the beach entrance, update the beach status via a telephone line (401-222-2751), and reflect the latest information on their website (

Swimming in contaminated water can lead to various illnesses, including gastrointestinal, respiratory, ear, eye, and skin infections. According to Environment America Research & Policy Center, an estimated 57 million cases of illness in the U.S. each year are linked to swimming in contaminated waters.

This season, only Conimicut Point Beach in Warwick has faced a temporary closure due to high bacteria counts. Closed on June 6, it reopened five days later after tests confirmed that bacteria levels had returned to safe limits.

In addition to BEACH Act grants, Senator Reed was instrumental in passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, which allocated $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater resource development projects nationwide. This law focuses on upgrading aging infrastructure, mitigating climate change impacts, and investing in innovative technologies to ensure clean and safe water.




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