Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink

» Marine Os isotopes

» Extraterrestrial matter flux

» Extinction events

» Snowball Earth

» Continental crust

» Oceanic crust

» The Tonga Arc

» Volcanic PGE Emissions

» Black shale

» Aquatic Re & Mo

» Bedrock geology

» Anthropogenic PGE

» Global Rivers Observatory


» PicoTrace Clean Lab

» Teaching & Outreach

» Rivers of Rhode Island

Four large watersheds of Rhode Island
The map shows the four large watersheds that provide Rhode Island with drinking water, that supply the coastal ocean, including Narragansett Bay, with nutrients, but also pollutants, and provide scenic opportunities for recreation. (RIGIS, modified by B. Peucker-Ehrenbrink)

Enlarge image
Valier Galy (left), Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink and Aleck Wang sampling the Pawcatuck River in early March 2012. (David Prescott)

Rivers of Rhode Island

WHOI: Drs. Aleck Wang, Valier Galy, Carl Lamborg, Marco Coolen. Save The Bay, Narragansett: Jonathan Stone, Marci Cole Ekberg, David Prescott, Rachel Calabro, Stephany Hessler, and community volunteers.

This study is generously supported by the van beuren Charitable Foundation (vbcf) of Newport, Rhode Island.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in close collaboration with Save The Bay, is conducting an analytical survey of Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts rivers.  We are studying four rivers - Pawcatuck, Pawtuxet, Blackstone, Taunton -  for one year (March 2012 to February 2013), with water samples taken approximately once per month.  Samples will be carefully analyzed for dissolved and particulate constituents and possible contaminants, both natural and man-made.  The analytical data will allow us to identify and quantify inputs from industry, agriculture, and city infrastructure, as well as from road and combined storm-and-sewer runoff.

Save The Bay assists in managing a network of volunteers to aid in the sampling.  They will host workshops/symposia in Rhode Island with volunteers, educators, environmental managers, policy makers and the research community both during and after the study, to ensure that the results are effectively disseminated to appropriate stakeholders.  WHOI will also collaborate with Save The Bay in creating video and on-line materials to inform the public about the study. 

Anticipated results:

World-class expertise and state-of-the-art facilities at WHOI provide comprehensive analyses of Rhode Island’s river water and suspended particulate matter, to better understand the impact of rivers on public and private water supplies.  This information will be directly useful to resource managers, educators and policy makers.  The collaboration with Save The Bay will lead to a “citizen scientist” network.  These volunteers interact directly with WHOI scientists, who will share their knowledge and resources with the citizens of Rhode Island.  The breadth of involvement will naturally facilitate the dissemination of critical information about the health of Rhode Island rivers.  Educational opportunities, through WHOI and the volunteer network, will inspire more people in RI to become aware, get involved and be motivated to change their behaviors if they understand how their actions can impact water quality.  The volunteer network, workshops/symposia, and video production created in collaboration with Save The Bay will boost the success of the outreach effort.

What's next?

April 5: Training of Community Volunteers at Save The Bay.

Late April/early May: Second "full" sampling of the Pawcatuck, Pawtuxet, Blackstone and Taunton rivers.

May 21: Arrival of WHOI Summer Student Fellow Kimberly Mayfield (U. Hawaii) at WHOI.

© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
All rights reserved