How to address Narragansett Bay’s pollution crisis


“We had one of the wettest Junes in history…In areas surrounding the Bay, we have innumerable streets, driveways and parking lots. During all weather, these surfaces collect pet waste, fluids dripping from our cars and chemicals running off our lawns. During a rainstorm, this all runs directly into the water at your local beach.”

Seth Dixon‘s insight:

I, like most Rhode Islanders, enjoy going to the beach during the summertime.  This cultural activity is intimitely connected with Rhode Island’s physical geography and it’s coastlines; however as urban areas have expanded it has complicated the environmental factors that lead to clean beaches that local residents and tourists are hoping to find.  The Rhode Island Department of Health has created this online map to help residents know if their local beaches are currently safe for swimming and other aquatic activities. 


Earlier this summer, seven local beaches were closed due to high levels of pollution.  In the first half of the summer of 2013, Rhode Island had at least 86 beach closure days.  Geography is interdisciplinary; to understand (and fix) this problem, we will need to grapple with issues of urban planning and environmental management while reassessing our cultural and economic priorities.  This is just one more reason to Save the Bay.       

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