Mt. Hope/Narragansett Bay watershed map

The Mount Hope Bay Shores and Narragansett Bay Watershed is located in southeastern Massachusetts and a small portion of eastern Rhode Island. The Mount Hope/Narragansett Bay Watershed has an area of 112 square miles and encompasses all or part of eight municipalities, including small portions of the Cities of Fall River and Attleboro.

The Blackstone River and Ten Mile River Watersheds feed the greater Mount Hope/Narragansett Bay Watershed to the northwest and the larger Taunton River Watershed to the east. The watershed drains into Mount Hope Bay and five smaller rivers. Proceeding in a westerly direction from Mount Hope Bay, the five rivers include the Lees, Cole, Kickamuit, Palmer, and Runnins Rivers. These five rivers generally flow in a southern direction through Rhode Island and empty into Narragansett Bay.

There are numerous lakes within this watershed, including two that are over 500 acres in size; namely, North Wattupa Reservoir (1,750 acres) and South Wattupa Pond in Fall River and Westport (1,660 acres). The Narragansett Bay Estuary, designated an Estuary of National Significance by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1987, supports numerous wildlife and marine species, including the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, a federally-endangered species of sea turtles.

Watershed Priorities

  • Write and encourage participation in the Watershed Action Plan
  • Restore water quality and habitat through river and wetland restoration:
    1. An interstate water quality restoration plan (TMDL for fecal coliform) is being developed for the Palmer River. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management completed the draft TMDL for their section of the river and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has completed sampling in the Massachusetts section. Save The Bay recruited volunteers for successful nutrient sampling during the summer of 2001. Public information meetings in RI and MA to share the results of all three studies were well attended.
    2. Bristol County Mosquito Control Authority is restoring a 20-acre salt marsh along the Palmer River. This site, home of the historic Barneyville Shipyard, is the first site in Bristol County to utilize open water marsh techniques to control mosquito population.
    3. Brayton Point in Somerset, MA is the largest fossil fuel burning power plant in New England and the largest industrial source affecting Mount Hope Bay. The cooling system utilized by the plant has contributed to the collapse of the fisheries within Mount Hope Bay. A series of public meetings was held to inform and accept comments.
  • Improve fish passage at Shad Factory Dam on the Palmer River in Rehoboth
  • Strengthen interstate coordination at the project and policy levels
  • Implement the Regional Open Space Plan
  • Plan for the future water supply needs of the watershed

Watershed Successes

The first bioreserve in Massachusetts was secured by the EEA working with local and regional partners. 14,000 acres in eastern Fall River have been protected within the Watuppa subwatershed of Narragansett Bay and in the Copicut subwatershed of Buzzards Bay.

The Coastal Zone Management Marine Monitoring Program established a web site for the real time data from the monitoring buoy at the mouth of the Taunton River.
Multiple partners have joined together to repair the fish ladder at the Shad Factory Pond on the Palmer River. This river is home to one of only two self-sustaining coastal shad fisheries in Massachusetts. Spearheaded by the Town of Rehoboth, other partners include the landowner (Bristol County Water Authority), local fishing groups, the Division of Marine Fisheries, and Save the Bay. NOAA's Fish America Grant Program, local sponsors, and private grant sources will provide funding.

Watershed Publications

Watershed Links
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Massachusetts Estuaries Project (MassDEP)
Save The Bay
Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts
Green Futures


This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of Water Policy