Heavy rain could force some RI beaches to close

Amie Parris works for the Rhode Island Department of Health.

She decides when a beach has to close.

"The more rain that we get, the more often we have to close the beach," Parris said.

When rain hits pavement - roads, parking lots, driveways, it has to go somewhere.

"Bacteria accumulate from pet waste, from bird waste and other contaminants, oil from cars. All of that is on our streets and sidewalks. When it rains, it flushes out into the oceans and to the beaches," Parris said.

And that means high bacteria levels at some local beaches, especially a few which are persistent problems spots. The Health Department tests those beaches more frequently, and especially on rainy days like Wednesday.

Parris claims bacteria issues are getting better.

"There's been a lot of improvements in water quality in Rhode Island over the past few years. The state and cities and towns have put a lot of work into finding and eliminating the sources of contamination," she said.

And that, Parris says, could make a difference on days like Wednesday.

"We're hoping (Thursday) that we see fewer closures than we normally do," she said.

Test results are expected Thursday.

The Health Department will take more samples from area beaches Thursday, so there will more results Friday too.