Located on the north side of Rhode Island Sound, Narragansett Bay is New England's largest estuary. The bay covers 147 square miles of scenic waterscape, is home to over forty islands, and serves as a natural harbor for the area. While most of the bay itself is located in Rhode Island, 60 percent of its 1,853 square mile watershed is actually in Massachusetts (the other 40 percent is in Rhode Island).
Narragansett Bay is deemed an estuary of national significance along with 27 others that are included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Estuary Program. Like other estuaries included in the program, Narragansett Bay is threatened by land development, increasing populations, water pollution, species decline, and habitat loss and degradation.
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP), established under the National Estuary Program in 1987, seeks collaborative solutions to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of Narragansett Bay. The NBEP works to protect and restore clean water, fish, wildlife, and habitats; manage local land for conservation and for the community; and manage climate change impacts to the area's natural systems. To continue progress toward these goals, key actions were documented in the 2012 revisions of the Program's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Narragansett Bay. These priority actions include:
As the host for the NBEP, NEIWPCC serves as program advisor and financial administrator to NBEP. NEIWPCC manages NBEP's personnel, contract, grant, and budget tasks and participates on the Management and Executive Committees. Some recent NBEP highlights include publishing a report with Watershed Counts on beaches, selecting projects for a large nutrient management grant, and creating a new Science Advisory Committee.