Save Bristol Harbor launches 10th season of water sampling!

Early in the morning of May 17th, for the 10th year in a row, a small but hearty group of Bristol residents will get up and get out to their local waters. Their goal? To monitor, measure and track the health of Bristol Harbor.

Annually since 2009 Save Bristol Harbor, in partnership with the URI Watershed Watch and the Town of Bristol, deploy a group of volunteers to sample the waters in and around the community.

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 currently samples and tests water at 15 sites. In Bristol Harbor we sample at the Herreshoff Marine Museum pier, Elks Club, Bristol Harbor Inn, Wind Mill Point, Mill Pond, the public access on Poppasquash Road, Bristol Yacht Club, and the Brito’s dock and the mouth of Silver Creek. Testing in the Silver Creek estuary is done at the Silver Creek Footbridge, the lagoon at Mt Hope High School, the Silver Creek east of Benjamin Church Manor and south of the pond near the DaPonte yard. Two locations on the East side of town are also tested, Annawamscutt boat landing south of the narrows and north of the narrows near the north end of Kahoa Way.

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 other sampling day (every fourth week) they collect additional 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 as well as pH.

Robert Hancock