Pollution harms our Bay
Water pollution harms Narragansett Bay’s waters, marine life, and the people who depend on it for their livelihood and quality of life. The Bay and the rivers of its watershed have suffered from 200+ years of toxic pollution—chemicals and metals that have been dumped into the Bay since the Industrial Revolution began on the Blackstone River. Today, the major sources of pollution are wastewater treatment plants, cesspools and septic systems, and stormwater runoff, all of which discharge high levels of nitrogen, bacteria, and phosphorus and everyday products such as pharmaceuticals, metals, chemicals, and petroleum products into the Bay and other local waters.
The pollution from these sources poses risks to public health and leads to the closing of swimming beaches and shellfish beds. Clams, mussels, scallops and oysters from Narragansett Bay are harvested commercially and recreationally, but shellfish beds are often closed after heavy rains because bacteria in sewage from wastewater system overflows and polluted runoff make them unsafe to eat. Eelgrass, widely recognized as a key indicator of bay health and an important source of food and habitat for marine life, has dwindled to just 10 percent of its one-thriving status in the Bay.