PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that its seasonal 24-hour Bay Line telephone information line is now open. The Bay Line number, 401-222-8888, is toll-free within the state.
Bay Line provides Rhode Islanders with a central telephone number to leave a recorded message about any sign of Bay-related environmental problems throughout the summer season for appropriate follow-up. It also provides online updates on water quality in Narragansett Bay, and referral numbers to contact DEM for immediate assistance or to inquire about current restrictions on beaches or fishing. Callers may also pose questions about the Bay.
Reports of Bay water quality conditions, updated weekly on Bay Line, are compiled from data provided by a network of monitoring stations in the Bay that continuously monitor oxygen, temperature, salinity, and pH levels, as well as observations of water clarity and the presence of algae blooms noted by the Department and partners. The Department, in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island, has completed the seasonal deployment of monitoring instruments and began posting the weekly water quality reports this month.
The intent of Bay Line is to provide an effective means for exchanging Bay-related information between the public and the agencies involved with monitoring and protecting the Bay. For instance, the weekly assessments can be used to provide DEM with early warnings about emerging issues, such as algae blooms, that might serve as precursors to low oxygen events and fish kills.
Bay Line is an integral part of a series of initiatives undertaken by DEM to protect Narragansett Bay. A related initiative is the Bay Assessment and Response Team (BART), which is designed to facilitate timely and well-coordinated responses to any major Bay-related environmental emergency. BART includes professional staff from DEM, the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Scientific Support for Environmental Emergency Response (SSEER) provided by the University of Rhode Island Scientific Support for BART. Rhode Islanders can find a great deal of Bay-related information, provided by the BART program on DEM’s website, www.dem.ri.gov. The weekly Bay Line reports can also be found at that location.