Little Narragansett Bay


Why the study?

Save The Bay’s study of water quality conditions in Little Narragansett Bay and the Pawcatuck River began in 2008, one year after the organization expanded its geographic scope to the South Coast and Little Narragansett Bay and created its South County Coastkeeper program. The Coastkeeper program and the study are generously funded by the Forrest and Frances Lattner Foundation.

Why a call to action

The Pawcatuck River and Little Narragansett Bay define this region on the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut. It is ecologically phenomenal in its beauty and the diversity of marine life that call the area home. It is also economically important to both states and the towns along its shorelines and recreationally important to the people who live and visit the area. It is indeed valuable, and equally fragile, due to its topography and shallow depths, pressure for development, human impacts and changing climate conditions. Therefore, it is crucial that it be protected now, so that it continues to serve this area and its communities in so many ways.

Little Narragansett Bay and the Pawcatuck River are beautiful, recreational areas under great pressure for further development. They are increasingly stressed by elevated bacteria levels from human and animal waste, high nutrient loads from fertilizers, waterfowl waste and sewage, and diminishing oxygen levels needed for marine life to survive. If communities become complacent about the protection of these waters, water quality will further degrade, as bacterial and nutrient levels continue to rise and dissolved oxygen plummets.

Why now?

The Pawcatuck River estuary has been studied for decades by state agencies, universities, and environmental organizations. Water quality data continues to show consistent water quality impairments across shared boundaries. Now, we turn to action.

Save The Bay hopes to unite the towns and citizens of Stonington, Westerly, and communities upstream in a common interest to protect their region’s most important ecological and recreational estuary, so that it will remain healthy enough for future generation to enjoy and continue to thrive as an economic engine for the region.