PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that the closures of Lower Providence River Conditional Area E and Upper Bay Conditional Area A, previously scheduled to reopen to shellfish harvesting at sunrise on Sunday, July 25, are extended until further notice. Conditional Area closures were enacted after the heavy rainfall that occurred on Saturday, July 17. This has been a wet July, with approximately 4.8 inches more rainfall than average. Last weekend's intense thunderstorm generated a large amount of stormwater runoff which followed several weeks of previous wet weather. Given these conditions, DEM reviewed data from samples collected in collaboration with the Narragansett Bay Commission on Wednesday, July 21 to ensure conditions were safe for the scheduled reopening.
Results of these samples showed high bacteria levels and necessitate the extension the closure of Area E and Area A until further notice. DEM will continue to collect samples in the area to document the return of acceptable water quality in the shellfish areas. Results from the next set of samples are expected on Tuesday, July 27.
Other Conditional Areas: Greenwich Bay is scheduled to reopen to shellfish harvesting at sunrise on Sunday, July 25. The Mt. Hope Bay and Kickemuit River conditional areas are currently open to shellfish harvesting.
Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters, protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.
For more information on the shellfish harvesting classifications, review the annual notice available at RIDEM - Shellfish. An interactive shellfishing map is also available.
For information on emergency and conditional area water quality related shellfish closures, call DEM's 24-hour shell fishing hotline at 401-222-2900, visit www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish, or sign up for the Office of Water Resources' listserv here: RishellfishOWRemail@example.com.
For information about DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.