Shellfishing has been banned in the Narrow River for more than two decades because of high bacteria levels, but the Narrow River Preservation Association is hoping dogs can help.
The organization has been testing the water for bacteria for more than 25 years; but this year, the group started participating in a canine detection program based in Maine to identify human sources of bacterial contamination, such as sewage.
The association said finding human sources will help state environment officials control it and stop it from happening. They added alternative methods of distinguishing human bacteria from animal waste are more expensive.
In May, scientists from the association and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management sent 14 samples from areas of concern in the river to Environmental Canine Services.
Their dogs identified two of those samples as human.
Scientists and handlers brought dogs out Wednesday afternoon to sniff around the Narrow River to locate the sources of that contamination.
Their findings will be made public in the coming weeks.