DV-17-01 Estimating nitrogen loads in Casco Bay, Maine

Whitley Gilbert
School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine

According to the U.S. Census, Portland, Maine is one of the fastest growing cities in New England. More people typically means changes in land use, such as more pavement and more wastewater, both of which affect coastal water quality. Excess nutrients in estuaries can cause eutrophication and disrupt marine food webs. However, data on nutrients in Casco Bay are lacking. Gilbert, a graduate student at the University of Maine, will quantify nutrient loading to Casco Bay from various sources and determine the relative influence of those sources on nutrient dynamics in the estuary. After establishing river discharge monitoring sites along representative tributaries of Casco Bay, she will collect nutrient samples during various river conditions/discharges (e.g. during storm events, base flow and snow melt) and different seasons. After integrating the discharge and nutrient data into a model of the bay, Gilbert and faculty advisor Damian Brady will share their results to inform decisions about managing land uses and allocating resources to improve downstream water quality.

Two-year project, $3,580 in Sea Grant funds