RI Health Dept. closes 8 beaches after heavy rain spikes bacteria counts


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following two days of heavy rain, eight beaches across Rhode Island have been ordered closed due to high bacteria levels.

The beaches include Easton’s Beach, Scarborough Beach – South, North Kingstown Town Beach, Barrington Town Beach, Saunderstown Yacht Club, Camp Grosvenor and Bonnet Shores. Gooseberry Beach in Newport was also added to the list Tuesday afternoon.

R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said there are many factors they consider before closing a beach.

“Its a lot of stormwater runoff, and it hits pavements, parking lots and then that water runs into the beach, which often brings animal waste, which has a lot of bacteria,” Wendelken said.

But Wendelken said rainwater isn’t the only reason for the closures.

“It’s also important for parents with young children to make sure that they are checking their diapers frequently because human waste can actually be a source of bacteria in beaches as well,” Wendelken explained. “So, it’s important that parents be really vigilant and other beachgoers aren’t being put in danger.”

The beach closures aren’t unique to this year. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said 54 of the state’s 129 beaches were considered unsafe for at least one day last year.

And Rhode Island isn’t alone. EPA also reported that last year, Massachusetts had more than 223 of its 583 beaches deemed unsafe for at least one day.

Wendelken said bacteria counts generally return to normal levels within three or four days. The health department is continuing to monitor water quality at each of the beaches listed above.

More: List of 2019 beach closures

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