Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Commission University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs

Estuarine Science

Flushing Rates

The flushing rate is how long it takes a parcel of water to travel through Narragansett Bay. It is somewhat difficult to measure or calculate the flushing rate of water in Narragansett Bay. There are many factors involved and they will change with time. There have been several estimates of the flushing rate of Narragansett Bay using several different techniques. The best estimate of the flushing time is 8 days to 26 days under normal river flow.

Factors affecting the flushing rate of Narragansett Bay:
  • Tidal range (i.e., spring or neap)
  • Fresh water input
  • Wind strength and direction


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