Beach Monitoring Program


To protect the public from illness associated with swimming in potentially contaminated bathing waters.

What We Do

Maintain a risk-based water sampling schedule from Memorial Day to Labor Day

Water samples are collected by the Department and analyzed for Enterococci bacteria (an indicator organism used to detect the presence of fecal matter in the water column) based upon standards set by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and US Environmental Protection Agency. Rhode Island’s recreational water use quality standard states: salt and fresh bathing waters must not exceed a single sample standard of 60 colony forming units (cfu) Enterococci per 100 milliliters (mL) of water. Both salt and freshwater beach facilities are required to conduct sampling to ensure safe swimming conditions as part of their recreational licenses.

Identify and eliminate sources of contamination

Stormwater, wastewater, and run-off are all major contributors to poor water quality at licensed beaches. To address this issue the Beach Program works closely with beach owners and managers, cities and towns, and other state agencies to identify and eliminate the sources of contamination.

2012 Accomplishments

  • Collected and analyzed 2920 water samples from beaches throughout Rhode Island.
  • Continued to assist beach owners and managers with finding and eliminating sources of contamination.
  • Worked with the Division for Infectious Disease and Epidemiology to track and investigate reported illness at Rhode Island beaches
  • Participated in Governor Lincoln Chafee’s Bay Day at India Point Park in Providence, RI.
  • Launched the “Scoop the Poop” campaign designed to promote responsible pet ownership at licensed beaches.
  • Completed year-three of the “Urban Beach Initiative”; an investigation into the health and safety of public access point in upper Narragansett Bay.
  • Launched the “Beach Program at your Beach” education and outreach initiative.

Forms & Reports