Narragansett Bay Estuary Program

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP) seeks collaborative solutions to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of Narragansett Bay.

Naragansett estuary

Part of the Narragansett Bay Estuary. Photo: Save The Bay

Narragansett Bay is New England’s largest estuary. The bay covers 147 square miles of scenic waterscape, is home to over forty islands, and serves as a natural harbor. While most of the bay is located in Rhode Island, 60 percent of its 1,853-square-mile watershed is in Massachusetts. The other 40 percent is in Rhode Island.

In 1987, Narragansett Bay was deemed an estuary of national significance in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program.

NEIWPCC is honored to play the role of institutional “host” for the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. Hosting is a particular relationship enjoyed by many national estuary programs and their hosting organizations. In that capacity, NEIWPCC manages the staff, participates in the Executive and Steering Committees, and performs other budgetary and grant-management tasks.

Narragansett Bay is threatened by land development, increasing populations, water pollution, species decline, and habitat loss and degradation.

The NBEP works to protect and restore clean water, fish, wildlife, and habitats; manage local land for conservation and for the community; and manage climate change impacts to the area’s natural systems. To continue progress toward these goals, key actions were documented in the 2012 revisions of the Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Narragansett Bay.

These priority actions include:

  • Improving understanding of both the changes in water quality in the bay and its bi-state watershed, including those resulting from nutrient pollutant loadings reductions, and their effects on the bay ecosystem.
  • Facilitating the use of sound science in bay watershed management decision-making.
  • Building capacity among municipalities and local organizations to foster stewardship for environmental engagement with emphasis on the broader adoption of low impact development and improved stormwater management.
  • Facilitating habitat restoration in Narragansett Bay and its watershed, its coastal buffers, and its tributary rivers and streams.

For more information visit the NBEP Website, or contact Richard Friesner, Ph.D. at

2017 State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program brought together more than 50 practitioners from universities, organizations, and agencies in a bi-state effort by Massachusetts and Rhode Island to collaborate on the 2017 State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed technical report.