Clean Ocean Access provides updates on water quality for Swim to Skim (Updated)

Clean Ocean Access has provided the following update regarding this weekend’s 6th Annual Swim To Skim and the recent sewage spill.

Update – August 22nd

Clean Ocean Access has provided the following update to their supporters and subscribers;

“The 6th Annual Swim to Skim is gearing up for August 25, 2019 for a 1.2-mile swim in Newport Harbor from Perrotti Park to King Park (the shoreline just west of Stone Pier). The event has a combined focus as a fundraiser to support our local grassroots environmental efforts, a celebration of accomplishments, and to raise awareness of environmental conditions that require our attention and action, so that so future generations can enjoy ocean activities.

We are optimistic on the water quality harbor in Newport Harbor, but it remains a top concern as we continue to assess the impact of the 10,000 gallons of untreated sewage that flowed into our local waters from 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Monday at Naval Station Newport near Coasters Harbor which is best described as being due west of the Community College of Rhode Island along Coddington Highway.

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As of Thursday morning, we have received four very favorable water quality results with laboratory work perform by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Monday afternoon samples taken at Van Zandt Pier were less than 10 CFU/ml which is very clean and excellent for all ocean activities. Likewise, On Tuesday afternoon the samples taken at Elm Street Pier were 10 CFU/100ml and King Park was less than 10 CFU/ml which is very clean. The current EPA standards for water quality is 60 CFU/100ml, so the outlook for the swim event is very promising. Results from Wednesday should be available later this afternoon. Thursday morning, we collected eleven water samples and will perform final testing on Friday to make the most informed decision for the 6thAnnual Swim to Skim. Online registration for the Swim to Skim is availablehere until 8 p.m. on Saturday evening with onsite registration available from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Water quality results

Van Zandt Pier           Elm Street Pier    King Park

Original Story – August 21st at 12:24 pm

The 6th Annual Swim to Skim is gearing up for August 25, 2019 for a 1.2-mile swim in Newport Harbor from Perrotti Park to King Park (the shoreline just west of Stone Pier). The event has a combined focus as a fundraiser to support our local grassroots environmental efforts, a celebration of accomplishments, and to raise awareness of environmental conditions that require our attention and action, so that so future generations can enjoy ocean activities. The water quality in Newport Harbor is a top concern right now as we assess the impact of the 10,000 gallons of untreated sewage that flowed into our local waters from 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Monday at Naval Station Newport near Coasters Harbor which is best described as being due west of the Community College of Rhode Island along Coddington Highway. 

Clean Ocean Access started testing the waters in Newport in 2006 with a specific focus on locations that are not tested as part of the summer beach program, but are known for recreational usage, such as the piers in Newport Harbor and the surfing locations along the cliff walk. In 2008 we put in place a year-round weekly water testing program that now monitors twelve locations every Thursday morning. Our water quality monitoring program is a participatory action science program that relies on dedicated volunteers to perform most of the steps of the program and is planned and managed by the Clean Ocean Access staff. The water samples are delivered to the Rhode Island Department of Health for processing. These results are used to protect human health by making them publicly available to inform local, state, and federal officials on the current status and short- and long-term trends of bacteria levels in the water. Since 2008 we have collected over 5,000 water samples and the complete report can be found here 

To make sure we have Clean Water for the Swim to Skim, starting on Tuesday, in cooperation with the Rhode Island Department of Health, we put in place a daily water sampling at Elm Street Pier and King Park to monitor bacteria levels. The test requires approximately 24 hours, so we can expect results on Wednesday afternoon, and this will be shared on our website and social media. Using the results from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we will make an informed decision as to whether the water is safe for swimming on Sunday morning. 

Additionally, this year we started a bacterial source tracking project working with the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor levels of surfactants, chlorine and ammonia in our water samples collected for bacteria monitoring. Elevated levels of these indicators raise the probability that the bacteria is from a human source. While any amount of bacteria above the acceptable limit is a risk to human health, knowing the source aides us in taking action to figure out the source. We will put this process in place effective today to determine the likely source of the bacteria for the daily samples. 

Now more than ever we need to bring awareness to the importance of clean water, putting long term infrastructure improvements as a top priority, reducing impervious cover, and installing residential and commercial green infrastructure projects. There are many ways we can all take action to improve water quality and most of this comes from the action we take on land. Please continue to sign-up for this important swim event and help to bring more awareness and support for our local year-round community efforts to achieve permanent year-round clean water for Aquidneck Island.

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