DV-17-21 Midcoast Maine Water Quality for Our Communities

Sarah Gladu
Damariscotta River Association
Damariscotta, ME

The Maine Coastal Observing Alliance (MCOA) consists of nine coastal citizen monitoring groups who collect water samples and analyze pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nutrients (total nitrogen), salinity, and turbidity in eight coastal estuaries and embayments between Casco Bay and Penobscot Bay. This coastwide survey, initiated in 2013, of Maine’s coastal water quality is the first undertaken since a 1996 Department of Environmental Protection study. The focus has been on gathering data from projected worst-case conditions of late summer, when the water temperatures are highest, biological activity is greatest, and low pH and dissolved oxygen are most likely to occur. Of particular interest is ocean acidification and interaction with high nutrient levels in coastal waters.

This project will identify protocols, equipment issues, and organizational challenges related to measuring pH in the field. Using a QAPP (quality-assurance project plan) developed by the Friends of Casco Bay and reviewed and approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, MCOA partners will begin calibrating pH measurements with laboratory-based equipment at the University of Maine Biogeochemistry laboratory. An expert technician will provide surface to bottom "profile" measurements that can serve as baseline information for future monitoring. Much will be learned through the important on-going processes of meetings, compromises, calibration workshops, and shared interpretation of data. Maine Sea Grant funds will be used primarily for data analysis and reporting. MCOA partners will host at least two forums and a website to share findings with the public as well as holding meetings with MCOA partners Boards of Directors.

Sea Grant funds: $5,000