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After Decades Of Pollution, Beach Swimming May Return In Upper Narragansett Bay


After nearly a century, the City of East Providence hopes reopen the beach at Sabin Point.

The city’s been working with Save the Bay to clean the area and divert storm water runoff. The project got a major boost on Wednesday thanks to an influx in new funding, $850,000 as part of the 2016 federal settlement with Volkswagen.

Save the Bay director of habitat restoration, Wenley Ferguson helped spearhead the project.

She said runoff has polluted the upper part of Narragansett Bay, making it unsafe to swim for decades.

“No one can recall when it was opened, so were thinking that it was probably like the 1920s or 30 when it was last opened for swimming,” said Ferguson.

East Providence Acting city manager Christopher Perrella says the city has already installed areas to filter storm water runoff.

“The next phase of this project is to start the bidding and construction work to remove and replace some of the old pipes that lead storm water to the beach with an efficient new green storm water management system,” said Perrella.

When the cleanup effort began in 2012, there were no concrete plans for reopening the beach, but officials now hope to open the area for swimming within several years.

The waterfront at Sabin Point in East Providence
The waterfront at Sabin Point in East Providence