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Flat Island in Rhode River Unsafe for Swimming

Officials with the West/Rhode Riverkeeper said they found high levels of bacteria in the Flat Island portion of the Rhode River.

The following was submitted by Joe Ports, conservation coordinator, West/Rhode Riverkeeper, and edited by Patch.

Wednesday's sampling found Flat Island in the Rhode River exceeded the EPA's single-test threshold for safe swimming.

We had a bit of rain prior to this round of sampling so the cause of this high reading could be runoff. To try and reduce our high bacteria levels remember to pick up after your pets and discourage the feeding of resident waterfowl.

To see our results along with those from our neighboring rivers don't forget to check out our Swim Guide app.

We're here to help so remember, if you're out on the water and see anything weird, report it to us.

For general information about the risks of swimming and other human health issues, see our one-page sheet on the subject by clicking here.

You can also see our water-quality maps generated from our weekly sampling on our website. Click here to check them out!

Thanks for staying informed about water quality on our rivers.

CJ August 24, 2012 at 11:15 AM
In a watershed surrounded by so much preserved land (SERC) and (relatively speaking,) minimal development when compared to creeks and rivers in the North of the County, it is disconcerting that the Flat Island area is unsafe for swimming and has such high bacteria counts. Is it reasonable to attribute this to natural causes (you note runoff/ dogs and waterfowl as causes?) Are these factors really better managed in the high population and densely developed centers to the north? Or is there something else going on?
G Dub August 24, 2012 at 07:54 PM
My kids and I have called Flat Island "Toilet Island" for years. If you go up onto the island, you'll find it covered with human waste, discarded toilet paper, and soiled underwear. It appears that despite the West/Rhode Riverkeeper providing convenient pumpout service, those who moor in the vicinity find it preferable to use Flat Island as a commode. Certainly, it is also a stopoff point for Canada Geese, and they are contributing to the bacteria problem, but the human waste there presents a more seious problem.
Sue Crandall August 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM
The water quality is measured by EPA standards...really? This administrations EPA, one of the most obstructionist to date? This is the same agency whose sticky beak is in part responsible for our exploding gas prices. We boat in the Rhode frequently, and I admit I have never gotten in the water, or closely examined any swimming areas so I can't speak to boaters pumping out, but based on the openness of the area, and the severity of the punishment for discharging in the Bay( I think it's probably flogging), I can't imagine anyone taking the risk of discharging there. Certainly residents should not feed waterfowl, but not for the reason Big Brother states. Human food just isn't good for them, plus it creates dependence on humans for nourishment. Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a helpless creature stuck in the ice, because it didn't migrate south. I do applaud the Riverkeepers dedication to the waterways, but maybe they need not expand their job description to include telling the public what they can and can't do. Anyone with a pair of eyes and a working sense of smell should be able to determine whether or not to swim in any body of water. Personal responsibility, folks. Just like feeding waterfowl, it just ain't right to try and control any creature, especially to their detriment.

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