NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — With Providence hitting an official heat wave on Wednesday, people are at the beach trying to cool off.
Sen. Jack Reed announced that Rhode Island will be getting $206,000 to maintain water quality through the 2021 BEACH Act Funding. This is a portion of the $1.1 million going to all five New England states to monitor beaches.
In Rhode Island, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding will allow the Department of Health to monitor the water quality and then report it back to Rhode Islanders.
Beach closures are common due to high bacteria levels and wildlife, which can be damaging to the economy.
“Back In 2003, we had over 500 beach closure days. In 2020, there were 51 days where water quality wasn’t healthy for swimmers. That’s a significant improvement, but we want to get it down to zero and keep it there,” Reed said.
The tourism industry is a big economic driver in Rhode Island and during the summer, the beaches are one of the main attractions. This is why officials say the grant money will be critical in helping beaches stay open, especially on hot summer days.