iWR January 2018 Front Page

A controversial decision by the EPA nearly upstaged the rollout of a landmark study of the Narragansett Bay Estuary last fall.

Nonetheless, the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and its partners presented the most comprehensive scientific assessment of the estuary’s health to date.

The bi-state Narragansett Bay estuary watershed. Source: NBEP

The State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed report combines the work of numerous research partners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. While most of the bay is in Rhode Island, 60 percent of the watershed lies within Massachusetts.

Some key findings are as follows.

  • Investments in water quality are paying off. Since 2010 the rate of water quality recovery has increased rapidly.
  • Accelerating climate change is affecting the bay. The area is especially vulnerable to storm surge and sea-level rise. Warm-water fish are moving into the bay and traditional cold-water fish are leaving.
  • Continued research and monitoring, and new infrastructure, will be necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The October 23 release of the report garnered national attention when the Environmental Protection Agency barred three agency scientists from speaking at the event as planned. One was to have given the keynote address. The scientists were allowed to attend.

The project’s steering committee is chaired by Judith Swift, Director of the Coastal Institute of the University of Rhode Island. Its Science Advisory Committee is chaired by John King, Professor of Oceanography at URI.

Further Information

iWR • January 2018