5. The Importance of Long-Term Data for Understanding Water-Related Issues in Maine

Morning Session (Howard Room, North Wing, 1st Floor)

* Three presentations in this session have been approved for training contact hours (TCH) through the State of Maine Board of Licensure of Water System Operators. Please see below for details.

Chair: Nick Stasulis, New England Water Science Center, Maine Office, USGS

Long-term data collection is critical for understanding the average conditions, variability, and trends of natural systems. Many organizations have collected water-related data in Maine to help inform specific issues and this data is often relevant to other issues. We invite talks on how long-term data collection has helped inform societally relevant water issues. This could include precipitation, streamflow, snow pack, groundwater levels, water quality, and other data.

Session Schedule

  • 8:30AM – 8:55AM: Observations of Physical Parameters from Continuous Monitoring in Watchic Lake in Standish, Maine, Margaret Burns, Amanda Gavin (0.5 TCH)
  • 9:00AM – 9:25AM: The Maine Cooperative Snow Survey: A multi-agency effort with multi-disciplinary applications, Daniel Locke (0.5 TCH)
  • 9:30AM – 9:55AM: Lead Poisoning in Maine’s Common Loons: Examining Biological and Social Dimensions, Brooke Hafford MacDonald (student)
  • 10:00AM – 10:25AM: Sustainable Water Policy and Practice – the long-term monitoring program at Cold Spring, Denmark, Maine, Mark Dubois, John Rand (0.5 TCH)


* Presenters are indicated in bold font.

8:30AM – 8:55AM

Approved for 0.5 TCH

Observations of Physical Parameters from Continuous Monitoring in Watchic Lake in Standish, Maine

Margaret Burns, Amanda Gavin, Forrest Bell
FB Environmental Associates, Portland, ME


Watchic Lake is a 443-acre lake located in the Town of Standish, Maine. Water quality monitoring is donation sponsored and implemented by volunteers. Although Watchic Lake water quality is currently good, it may be at risk due to development in the watershed. Since 2016, the Watchic Lake Association (WLA) has been working with FB Environmental Associates (FBE) of Portland, Maine to continuously monitor water quality. Each summer, a buoy with continuous data loggers suspended at each meter is deployed at the lake’s deep spot. Three data loggers monitor both dissolved oxygen and temperature (deployed at 2 meters, 5 meters, and 11 meters from the surface), and the remaining meter intervals have data loggers that measure only temperature. Beginning in the 2017-2018 season, temperature data loggers remained deployed through the winter, providing year-round, continuous temperature data. This data has allowed the WLA and FBE to monitor the vertical extent and duration of dissolved oxygen depletion at the bottom of the lake and the exact dates of spring and fall turnover. Additionally, it provides a window into winter lake dynamics, a critical component of a lake’s physical response to climate change. Moving forward, the WLA is developing a watershed protection plan to identify (and hopefully remediate) likely sources of nonpoint source pollution that could be contributing to oxygen depletion. This presentation will explore what the project partners have learned and how it can be used to monitor water quality responses to changes in pollutant load, local weather patterns, and regional climate change.

9:00AM – 9:25AM

Approved for 0.5 TCH

The Maine Cooperative Snow Survey: A multi-agency effort with multi-disciplinary applications

Daniel Locke1, Amber Whittaker1, Christian Halsted1, James Caldwell2, Marc Loiselle3

1 Maine Geological Survey, Augusta, ME
2 U.S. Geological Survey, New England Water Science Center, Maine Office, Augusta, ME
3 Maine Geological Survey (Retired), Readfield, ME

Driven by the water management information needs of different agencies, a long-term, nearly continuous record of snow depth and its associated water content has been collected in Maine. The first headwater snow surveys were conducted in the early 1900s by dam operators seeking to regulate reservoir storage capacity.  From that time until the mid-1980s snow data was collected at selected sites around Maine by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the State of Maine.  Spring flooding in 1983 spurred formation of the River Flow Advisory Commission (RFAC) to facilitate the exchange and review of hydrologic information, such as snow pack, and to provide information to emergency management agencies and the public.  The RFAC administers the current Maine Cooperative Snow Survey, which is a partnership between the USGS, the Maine Geological Survey (MGS), and many other contributors.  Each season, snowpack depth and water content data are collected at established sites from early January until the sites are snow-free. The data are compiled, reviewed, and analyzed by the USGS and MGS, and used to produce statewide maps and datasets that are published on the RFAC website. All available snow survey data have been compiled by the USGS and MGS and reside in a publicly-available database managed by MGS. This presentation will review the history of Maine snow data, snow data collection methods, map and data products from the Maine Cooperative Snow Survey, and current and possible future uses for the data.

9:30AM – 9:55AM

Lead Poisoning in Maine’s Common Loons: Examining Biological and Social Dimensions

Brooke Hafford MacDonald (student)1, Sandra de Urioste-Stone2, David Evers3, Brian Olsen4
1 Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2 School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3 Biodiversity Research Institute, Portland, ME
4 School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME


Lead poisoning from ingested fishing tackle is a well-documented conservation concern for adult common loons in the Northeastern United States. To mitigate this issue the state of Maine has enacted legislation banning certain types of lead tackle beginning in 2002. In addition to legislative action there have been various non-regulatory strategies employed in Maine to help raise awareness. However, policy and outreach initiatives have been met with controversy and some residents argue against regulations. Human behavior is the root cause of lead fishing tackle in aquatic environments and can determine the success of legislative and educational campaigns. Therefore, in order to understand the efficacy of these efforts, we developed an interdisciplinary study with two overarching goals: (1) to document the number of adult common loon mortalities resulting from lead poisoning; and (2) to measure factors that influence attitudes and behaviors of Maine residents regarding lead tackle use. We began by analyzing a long-term dataset containing information for over 2,000 common loon necropsies conducted in the Northeastern United States between 1987 and 2016. In 2016 we surveyed Maine residents about their lead tackle use. Our primary findings were that lead mortality in Maine’s adult common loons has decreased over time, and anglers reported using lead fishing tackle less frequently over the last 5 years. The 30 years of necropsy data were an invaluable resource necessary to determine rates of mortality over time, particularly before and after legislative implementation.

10:00AM – 10:25AM

Approved for 0.5 TCH

Sustainable Water Policy and Practice – the long-term monitoring program at Cold Spring, Denmark, Maine

Mark Dubois1, John Rand2
1 Poland Spring, Poland, ME
2 John Wood Group, Portland, ME

Cold Spring is located in a sand and gravel aquifer in Denmark, Maine. Water from Cold Spring provides a source for bottled spring water products for Poland Spring / Nestle Waters North America. Spring conditions suitable for development as a commercial spring site were researched in the early 2000’s. Along with spring development, the Town of Denmark enacted a Water Extraction Ordinance in 2005, which has since been amended twice, and includes third-party data review by the Town of Denmark’s hydrogeologist.

Cold Spring is regulated by multiple governmental agencies, including as a public water system by the Maine Drinking Water Program, a significant groundwater well by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and a large-scale water extraction by the Town of Denmark. Because the water is a food product, it is also subject to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for spring water.

From these local, state and federal rules pertaining to spring water withdrawal and use in a food product, Poland Spring and Wood PLC operate a system of long-term data collection, analysis and reporting on the sustainability of the spring and associated aquifer.

Altogether, the established water monitoring program represents a case study of sustainable water policy and practice in Denmark. To be a sustainable operation, public interpretation of water data are important. Tools used to relate long-term data trends to the public represent important learnings within the context of sustainability and public policy regarding water withdrawal at Cold Spring.