The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust coordinates volunteer water quality sampling throughout the region.
The Presumpscot River watershed covers much of Greater Portland and is the largest freshwater input into Casco Bay. As the region has quickly grown, so has recreational use of the river; there are now over 20 water access points for paddling the river, several swimming holes, and numerous great fishing spots.
Clean water is critical to safe recreation and for healthy wildlife habitat in the watershed. The Land Trust uses the findings from the Water Stewards program to help identify important places to conserve land and work in collaboration with partners on restoration projects.
You can explore the results from last year's Water Stewards program below. Please click here to see a full-screen version.
2018 State of Clean Water Update
The Land Trust completed a second year of our ongoing Water Stewards program. The goal of this program is to monitor the water quality of the Presumpscot River and its many tributaries to understand its status and how it may be changing. The 2018 results can now be viewed through the interactive map on our Land, Water, and Trails webpage at www.prlt.org/water.
Good water quality is vital to wildlife as well as the health of humans who recreate in or on the river. Citizen scientists measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, and bacteria levels. Aquatic life, like fish, survive and thrive when levels of dissolved oxygen are high. Water is healthy for humans to swim and recreate in when bacteria levels are low.
This sampling season we encountered the stark reality that only 3 of the 40 sites we tested were below the state water quality threshold for E. coli bacteria levels throughout the season. E. coli is a key indicator, so this means that human and/or animal waste is likely causing negative impacts to the river system. The results from our Water Stewards program helps our Land Trust and its partners identify important places to conserve land to maintain clean water and potential restoration projects to improve water quality.
The Water Stewards program was possible this year thanks to 31 volunteer citizen-scientists who together sampled 40 sites throughout the watershed on a biweekly basis from May through September. Thank you to Casco Bay Estuary Partnership for being the lead funder, USM’s Environmental Science and Policy Department for program collaboration, Town of Windham’s Watershed Protect Grant, IDEXX Laboratories, and the Land Trust Business Partners and Individual Members for supporting the Water Stewards program. .
BACKGROUND The Presumpscot River watershed covers much of Greater Portland and is the largest freshwater input into Casco Bay. As the region has quickly grown so has recreational use of the river; there are now over 20 water access points for paddling the river, several swimming holes, and numerous great fishing spots.
In 2016, the Land Trust merged with Presumpscot River Watch and continued to monitor the watershed through the 10-year-old Water Stewards program. The Land Trust is now analyzing 10 years of water quality data for trends.
The Water Stewards program works in collaboration with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Volunteer River Monitoring Program to train citizen science volunteers to collect water quality samples throughout the Presumpscot River watershed every other Saturday during the summer months, collecting a total of ten samples at each site per year.
The State of Maine uses this data to identify rivers and streams that do not attain state standards and works with partners to develop restoration plans that address potential water quality problems in the watershed. As noted by Mary Ellen Dennis with the Department of Environmental Protection, “volunteer groups like the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust often collect water quality samples from locations not regularly monitored by our staff. This allows us to have better idea of water quality conditions for a broader geographic area.”