Save Bristol Harbor begins its fifth year of measuring/tracking the health of Bristol Harbor and Silver Creek

On April 27, 2013 Save Bristol Harbor, in partnership with the URI Watershed Watch, trained its new volunteers for its fifth year of the Water Quality Testing Program. The purpose of this program is to gather data on the health and condition of the harbor over a long period of time. This information will allow SBH, the Bristol Harbor Commission and others to better understand the harbor, examine changes or trends and make more informed decisions about activities in and around Bristol Harbor. SBH performs water testing at 14 sites around Bristol Harbor: the Herreshoff Marine Museum pier, Elks Club, Bristol Harbor Inn, 6 locations in Silver Creek (based on its being identified via our test results as a “hot” spot), Wind Mill Point, Mill Pond, Poppasquash Road, Bristol Yacht Club, and the Brito’s dock.

Volunteers take and test samples before 8:00 am every other Thursday morning from May through early October. Samplers conduct multiple tests including measuring dissolved oxygen and salinity as well as sampling chlorophyll at each site; they also take water temperature readings and record tide, rain events, wind speed and direction. In addition, every fourth week they collect separate water samples that are delivered to URI where more sophisticated testing is performed and recorded, e.g., total nitrogen, ammonia-nitrogen, phosphorus, fecal coliform and enterococci levels.

During late summer in 2011, tidal flow meters were placed around the harbor to measure and record how quickly various areas of the harbor actually flush or turnover which may be impacted by many factors including tidal flow, wind direction and speed, rain events, etc. All these data are being used to build a Predictive Habitat Model that is being developed through the partnership of Save Bristol Harbor, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and Brown University. The Save Bristol Harbor Predictive Habitat Model will be the first of its kind to focus exclusively on our harbor and its health.  Save Bristol Harbor is working with the Town of Bristol and the Harbor Commission in this effort and expects to produce a Model that will be extremely beneficial to both in making more informed decisions regarding the harbor’s future health, development and use.

The report of results from the 2009-2013 sampling can be downloaded here.