2016 Concurrent Sessions

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine

Concurrent Sessions  l  Poster Session  l  Keynote   l  Organizing Committee  l  Sponsors  l  Conference Home

colbystudentsmallMany speakers have given us permission to post pdfs of their PowerPoint presentations to the website. When these are available, you can access the presentation by clicking on the presentation title. Please contact the speaker directly if you have any questions about their presentation.

* Training contact hours for these sessions and the plenary are available through the Maine Drinking Water Program. Sign-up sheets will be available in the session rooms.

# Credits are available for these sessions from the American Planning Association American Institute of Certified Planners (APA AICP).

Concurrent Sessions


Session Co-chairs:
Glenn Hodgkins, Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey New England Water Science Center
Sarah Nelson, Associate Research Professor, School of Forest Resources; Director, Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, University of Maine

Climate change has the potential to affect extreme events relevant to New England coastal areas. Is more severe coastal flooding likely in the future? What other impacts can be expected? This session will open with a talk describing methods for estimating coastal flooding, including limitations and uncertainties. Talks will then follow describing current research into the potential effects of climate change on coastal groundwater and infrastructure and on harmful coastal algal blooms. Finally, data and tools useful for evaluating climate change impacts on coastal and inland infrastructure will be discussed.

Estimating extreme coastal flooding conditions for the Maine coast
Nathan Dill, Project Manager, Ransom Consulting, Inc.

The Maine coastline is subject to extreme storms events, which can cause abnormally elevated water levels, powerful wave conditions, erosion, flooding, and subsequent damage to the sensitive coastal environment and human infrastructure. By definition such events are rare. This leaves scientists, engineers, and planners with a dearth of observations needed to predict the frequency and magnitude of the impacts of such events on the coastal zone. As such, we turn to physics based mathematical models to simulate conditions that might occur, and statistical methods to estimate their severity and frequency of recurrence.  The assumptions and limitations of such models, in addition to the very randomness of nature itself, leaves us with a large degree of uncertainty in our predictions. This presentation reviews some of the most recently developed methods and available data for predicting and analyzing extreme coastal flooding conditions for the Maine Coast, discusses the limitations and uncertainty of this information, and concludes with an example of how such information may be refined and applied to help us understand, plan for, and mitigate the impacts of extreme coastal flooding events in the face of this uncertainty.

Modeling the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on groundwater levels and the implications for road infrastructure in coastal New Hampshire
Jayne Knott (student), University of New Hampshire

Coastal communities with high population density and infrastructure close to the shoreline are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise. Sea level in coastal New Hampshire is projected to rise 3.9 to 6.6 feet by the year 2100 (New Hampshire Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission, 2014).  Climate change vulnerability and adaptation studies have primarily focused on surface-water flooding from sea-level rise; however, little attention has been given to rising waters from beneath the ground surface. Groundwater in many coastal communities will rise with rising sea level which will likely have important consequences for water quality, the structural integrity of foundations and infrastructure, and the health of natural ecosystems in the coastal zone.

In this study, we have modified a USGS groundwater flow model of coastal New Hampshire (Mack, 2009) to investigate the effect of various sea-level rise scenarios on groundwater levels.  We have determined that the interaction of several hydrogeological factors results in distinct spatial patterns of groundwater rise that are not evident from simple models linking sea-level rise and terrain. Furthermore, we are able to identify sections of roadways that will potentially have compromised pavement performance as rising groundwater intersects the sublayers of these roadways. Our findings broadly suggest that adaptation strategies designed to counter the effects of climate change and sea-level rise in coastal communities must consider potential damage from rising groundwater in addition to surface water impacts not only immediately along the coast but also at significant distances inland.

Ecology and impacts of harmful macroalgal blooms: Lessons from southern New England
Carol Thornber, Dept. of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island; Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR

Blooms of macroalgae occur in coastal systems worldwide, and they frequently cause significant environmental and economic impacts. In southern New England, an increase in harmful macroalgal bloom abundance and duration has been documented over the past several decades, and blooms have negatively impacted fisheries, commerce, and tourism in these regions. As the Gulf of Maine’s sea surface temperatures have increased faster than 99% of the global ocean over the past decade, these extreme temperature increases (as well as with increases in ocean acidification) may also enhance the potential for bloom-forming conditions in the Gulf of Maine. Here, we investigated the temporal and spatial distribution of macroalgal blooms in Narragansett Bay, RI and the impacts of increased water temperature, CO2, and nutrients on the survival and growth rates on bloom forming macroalgae in the genus Ulva (‘sea-lettuce’). We found that Ulva had high survival rates (>70%) in water temperatures ranging from 11-24oC and could survive in water temperatures as high as 32oC. Similarly, growth rates of Ulva species did not significantly differ from 15-24oC. In separate experiments, we found that both elevated CO2 and nutrients significantly increased Ulva growth rates fourfold over ambient (present-day) conditions. Given our results, we predict that coupled shifts in multiple climate variables have the potential to cause widespread increases in bloom-forming macroalgae in coastal systems including the Gulf of Maine.

The Maine Climate Change Adaptation Regional Resiliency Assessment Program
William DeLong, Protective Security Advisor – Maine, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Office of Infrastructure Protection within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified critical infrastructure in the Casco Bay Region of Maine as the focus for a Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) project for 2014. This Casco Bay RRAP is the first in the program to focus on climate change adaptation planning.

The RRAP effort involved a close working relationship between DHS, NOAA, EPA, and key partners in the State and local government and academia.  This presentation will focus on the key findings of the RRAP and the following technical assistance tasks currently ongoing:

  1. Regional Climate Data Modeling and Distribution task makes the downscaled climate modeling data used in this RRAP available to stakeholders and the public for use in adaptation planning and preparedness. The data will be accompanied by a first of its kind user guide.
  2. Radar-Based Rainfall Data task uses historical weather radar data to provide a geospatial record of rainfall trends. High-resolution, spatial rainfall data can be used in a range of applications, including integration into regional climate modeling for projections of location-specific changes in key climate conditions.
  3. Climate-Based Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) Curves task develops “next generation” IDF curves for this Region using data from the regional climate modeling activities and radar-based rainfall data activities, to account for future climatic conditions.
  4. Storm Surge Infrastructure Risk Analysis task utilizes inundation scenarios to develop a risk-based prioritization of critical infrastructure assets in the coastal areas of Portland to inform planning and design strategies.


Session Co-chairs:
Glenn Hodgkins, Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey New England Water Science Center
Sarah Nelson, Associate Research Professor, School of Forest Resources; Director, Ecology and Environmental Sciences program, University of Maine

Climate change has the potential to affect extreme weather events in the Northeast. Should we expect changes in floods, droughts, extreme precipitation, or temperatures? If so, how will these changes likely affect ecosystems, human infrastructure, and other important systems? This session will begin with a review of observed and expected changes climatic averages and extremes in Maine and potential impacts on inland areas. This will be followed by talks about ongoing research into potential impacts of extreme events on drinking water and soil nutrients. Finally the interaction of science and policy issues related to climate change, extreme events, and infrastructure will be discussed.

Means, extremes, and the changing character of Maine’s Climate
Bradfield Lyon, Associate Research Professor, Climate Change Institute, UMaine

This talk will examine trends in mean and extreme values of various climate variables, the relationship between them, and overall changes in the character of Maine’s current and projected climate. The first example is an observed upward trend in mean temperature and concurrent increase in the likelihood of extreme high temperatures. While the focus is on atmospheric temperature, the same concepts hold for water temperature. A second example is an enhanced hydrologic cycle, manifest by an upward trend in atmospheric water vapor and an increase in the frequency of extreme precipitation events. Somewhat paradoxically, the water vapor increase in climate models is also associated with an increase the length of future dry spells, which will be explained. Another change in the character of precipitation relates to observed and projected declines in the ratio of snow (water equivalent) to total wintertime precipitation. Coupled with increasing trends in both temperature and total precipitation, the timing and magnitude of peak springtime streamflow are also affected.

In terms of impacts, trends in the mean alone can have substantial, and sometimes non-linear consequences. Increases in mean water temperature, for example, can affect the viability of various aquatic animal and plant species and increase the mortality rate of amphibians exposed to viruses.  From an infrastructure point of view, regulatory standards may prohibit a power plant from operating if water intake or discharge temperatures exceed specified thresholds.  Increasing extreme precipitation events and flood frequency impact infrastructure and water quality. Conversely, droughts impacts are exacerbated by increasing temperatures.

Investigating the response of Maine’s drinking water resources to extreme precipitation events
Kate Warner (student), Climate Change Institute and School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine

Lakes serve as a high quality source of drinking water for a large population of Maine residents. However, this high quality water is being threatened by extreme precipitation events, which have increased in frequency in the northeastern U.S. by 60-70% since the 1950’s. Analysis of a 30-year database of surface water geochemistry and watershed-specific landscape data for 84 remote lakes throughout the northeast suggests increased concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in lakes during extreme wet years. Increases in DOC, an important regulator of ecosystem function, can influence overall water quality and can have implications for drinking water treatment processes. Currently, the extent to which changing precipitation is altering the type and quantity of DOC and consequently the biota of Maine’s lakes is unclear. Our goal is to quantify immediate changes in drinking water lakes from extreme precipitation events through measurement of key water quality metrics including: DOC quantity, DOC quality, nutrients, algal biomass and community structure. A subset of 6 drinking water sources were sampled for these metrics 24 hours before, 24-48 hours after, and 5-7 days after an extreme precipitation event. Three types of responses were found across lakes: 1) sustained increase in DOC after an event; 2) initial spike in DOC after the event, followed by return to pre-storm concentrations; 3) no change in DOC. This research will help inform potential future modification of drinking water management strategies.

Nutrient dynamics in a changing climate: How does a decreasing snowpack influence soil biogeochemistry?
Kaizad Patel (student), School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

The snowpack plays an important role in winter soil processes by insulating the soil from freezing air temperatures, allowing C and N transformations to continue under the snowpack. Changes in subnivean processes thus have important ramifications for nutrient availability to biota post-melt. Recent trends and climate model predictions for the future indicate warming and shorter winters with less snowfall. The loss of insulation makes the soil more susceptible to freeze-thaw cycles.

We conducted a snow removal experiment in the Dwight DeMeritt Forest at the University of Maine to examine the effects of decreased snowpack and increased frost on soil processes. Surface organic soil was collected from softwood plots during the late winter and early spring to track biogeochemical changes as the soil ecosystem evolved from under the snowpack. Of the 8 plots sampled, 4 were subjected to manual snow removal treatments, and 4 were used as reference plots. Laboratory extractions and incubations were performed to quantify inorganic available nitrogen (NH4+-N and NO3-N), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and potential net N-mineralization.

Snow removal resulted in decreased soil temperatures (2-8°C colder than the reference plots). The treatment also resulted in higher DOC and NH4+-N concentrations. Our findings demonstrated that freeze-thaw cycles play an important role in soil nutrient availability during the dynamic vernal transition of forest soils in northern latitudes. Understanding these processes becomes increasingly important to defining forest ecosystem response to a changing climate given the rapid changes that take place in the transition between winter and spring.

Who’s driving? How do we make decisions facing an uncertain future?
Judy Gates, Director, Environmental Office, MaineDOT

Historically, on-the-ground infrastructure decisions have been made by looking into the past and asking how the existing structure performed over its lifespan.  We’ve learned the hard way that we have to consider possible futures in today’s decisions; we can’t wait until we have all of the answers to make responsible choices on how and where to spend tax dollars.  We are urged to re- prioritize project and re-allocate our resources, and re-evaluate the balance between cost efficiency and absolute resilience.  And yet, we can get a bit lost under a mountain of data that is both too much and not enough to help us be at least marginally confident that we’re making educated, logical, no-regrets decisions. Meanwhile, the engineering-based asset management world thrives on consistency and predictability, and deserves acknowledgement that the uncertainty around resiliency is very uncomfortable.  After all, elements that we based our priorities on before, like safety, condition, and service, haven’t gone away.   Facing forward, MaineDOT has set about quantifying risk posed by uncertain futures using an automated, generalizable Decision Support Tool (DST). Risk in this case is defined as the likelihood of a significant impact to the schedule or budget for a project.  This work connects planning and budgetary decisions on assets in a manner sensitive to likely future landscape-level changes.  With the context of the national discussions, we’ll share what a long, strange trip it’s been, why a larger structure is not always the best solution…and why sometimes it is… along with some pesky realities we ran into along the way.


Session Co-chairs:
Don Witherill, Director, Division of Environmental Assessment, Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection
Linda Bacon, Lake Assessment Section Leader, Division of Environmental Assessment, Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection

Technological improvements to water monitoring devices are advancing at an unprecedented rate.  This session focuses not so much on the new technology, but on the data collected by these new devices. For example, how do we know these data are valid? What metadata should be collected and what device quality checks are necessary pre- and post-deployment? Once data are downloaded, how should the myriad of numbers be summarized or collapsed into meaningful, actionable information? What graphics are most useful for the display of the data? What computer programs exist to facilitate the number crunching? How does seasonality effect results? The session may conclude with a panel discussion focusing on the trials and tribulations experienced by experienced users of the technology. 

Continuous Water Quality Monitoring: Best Practices for Generating High-Quality Data
Jim Caldwell, Hydrologic Technician, USGS New England Water Science Center Maine Office

Continuously-logging water-quality monitors are able to capture environmental extremes and events that are not captured with spot sampling. This presentation will focus on considerations for ensuring the accuracy of continuous water-quality data. Best practices include steps prior to instrument deployment, during deployment, immediately following deployment, and during data processing. Examples of these best practices include consideration of site selection, biofouling prevention, pre and post instrument calibration, routine field maintenance with accompanying field documentation, and applying fouling and/or drift corrections during data processing.  I will draw from examples of continuous monitoring in both rivers and in estuarine systems and from over twenty years of collecting and processing continuous data with the U.S. Geological Survey.

A Web-based System for Managing, Analyzing, and Visualizing Stream Temperature Data Collected across New England
Jeffrey D. Walker, Department of Environmental Conservation, UMass Amherst

Stream temperature is an important environmental variable for assessing fish habitat suitability and availability. Although temperature is a relatively easy and inexpensive water quality parameter to measure, there are many challenges associated with reviewing data quality, as well as combining datasets collected by different groups in order to understand regional spatial and temporal trends.

To address these challenges, we developed a web-based platform called the Spatial Hydro-Ecological Decision System (SHEDS). SHEDS contains a database of raw stream temperature measurements collected by organizations, agencies, and researchers across New England. It allows each user to upload, manage, and perform quality control on their own datasets, which are then used to calibrate a Bayesian model predicting daily stream temperature across the entire region. SHEDS also includes a web-based geospatial application called the Interactive Catchment Explorer (ICE), which enables users to explore regional trends and relationships between multiple datasets and models representing land use, climate, stream temperature, and fish occupancy. Through it’s responsive interface, ICE makes datasets and model results highly accessible and interactive. For example, users can filter catchments using multi-variate criteria and compute spatial aggregation to larger watershed scales.

Working with the Maine Water Temperature Working Group, SHEDS currently holds over 15 million individual measurements collected at more than 1,000 locations by 14 different groups within Maine alone. By linking databases, models, and visualization tools, SHEDS provides users with a new and powerful way to integrate and explore large regional datasets.

Use and Management of Lake Data from Automated Sensors by a Regional Organization
Colin Holme and Amanda Pratt, Lakes Environmental Association

Using high-tech equipment to collect water quality data has many benefits over traditional field monitoring. However, the vast amounts of accumulated data can be difficult to manage and interpret. Since the 1970’s the Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) has been regularly collecting and analyzing water quality data from lakes and ponds in Western Maine.  Seeing the potential benefits of automated data collection, LEA recently enhanced its water testing program with new technologies including a high-tech multi-parameter buoy on Highland Lake, in-lake temperature sensors and hand held fluorometry.  With the sudden abundance of data produced, LEA needed to look at new ways of comparing and analyzing this new information, ensuring that it is accurate, and relating it to existing, long-term data sets.

This presentation will focus on what programs LEA is using to compile and analyze all this data as well as some of the preliminary findings that pertain to our understanding of lake systems.  Also discussed will be the limitations of the information, quality control procedures and comparisons to traditionally acquired data. The presentation will finish with likely next steps for LEA and possible opportunities for other organizations interested in enhancing or expanding their lake monitoring programs.

Analysis of Oxygen Concentrations in Maine Lakes Over a Range of Time Scales: Quantifying Long Term Trends in Hypolimnetic Anoxia and Hourly Changes in Euphotic Zone Photosynthesis?
D. Whitney King, Dr. Frank and Theodora Miselis Professor of Chemistry, Colby College

Dissolved oxygen plays a critical role in lake biogeochemistry by defining fish habitat, organic carbon oxidation rates, and sediment-based metal redox chemistry and phosphate complexation.   Maine has thirty years of water column oxygen data for over fifty lakes and shorter records for several hundred more.  We have developed an R-based tool kit to analyze hypolimnetic oxygen consumption rates and the extent of seasonal anoxia (anoxic factor).  In the Belgrade Lakes, dramatic shifts in anoxic factors are concurrent with changes in plankton diversity and water column transparency.  Critical to anoxic factor calculations are good estimates for fall lake mixing dates, and we will discuss several approaches for estimating fall overturn and the resulting errors in anoxic factor calculations.

In recent years, buoy-based sensors provide high-resolution oxygen data (every 15 minutes) suitable to calculate daily photosynthesis and respiration rates.   The net rates of productivity and respiration are highly influenced by short-term weather conditions and are coupled to hypolimnetic oxygen consumption over seasonal time scales.    These new optical-based oxygen sensors also provide long-term (months) measurements of dissolved oxygen with only periodic calibration.   We have compared long-term buoy data with discrete profiles of dissolved oxygen to estimate the calibration errors associated with long-term deployment of oxygen sensors.  The primary source of error in optical-based dissolved oxygen measurements is biofouling on the optical membrane which can be minimized with the installation of mechanical wipers.


Workshop Leader:
Jeremy Bell, Aquatic Habitat Restoration Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Maine is challenged with the need to upgrade its road stream-crossing infrastructure to meet a current and changing hydrology, to improve its fish and wildlife resources, and improve public transportation and safety. Recent statewide surveys indicate that greater than 60% of Maine’s public road stream-crossings may be insufficient or at risk. A number of tools have recently been developed that can assist in identification, planning, development, and financing of improved road crossings. This session will introduce participants to a number of these tools such as StreamSmart, StreamStats, and Stream Habitat Viewer, the network of collaborative forums, and how a successful project can be implemented. This session is particularly relevant for public officials, public works personnel, landowners, road associations, and watershed associations.

About the Workshop Leader
Jeremy Bell is the Aquatic Habitat Restoration Manager at The Nature Conservancy. Jeremy works to implement stream connectivity for fish, and coastal habitat restoration in Maine, and has over 15 years experience as a Restoration Ecologist. He has managed numerous projects on road stream crossings spanning freshwater streams, wetlands and tidal creeks. Jeremy is highly regarded for his collaborative approach to restoration work, and was selected as a recipient of the Gulf of Maine Council’s Visionary Award in 2013.


Session Chair:
Norman Anderson, Anderson Environmental Health

This session will present findings from some recent assessments conducted to better understand the relationships between climate change and health impacts in Maine. The session will begin with an overview of climate related health impacts in Maine, based on a 2015 review completed by the Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Greenhouse gas climate forcings result in warmer and wetter weather that is associated with a variety of adverse health consequences. These consequences are projected to become direr over time. Following this overview, we will examine in detail the direct health concerns associated with high heat days, based on the analyses conducted by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In the final presentation, we will focus on a community example that addresses the increasing impacts of extreme precipitation on our water infrastructure and on agriculture in the Greater Waterville area. The session will conclude with a panel discussion on how we can best move forward on a shared climate and health agenda, involving medical, academic, governmental, and non-governmental stakeholders.

Death by Degrees: The health crisis of climate change in Maine
Paul F Perkins, MD, Board Member, Physician’s for Social Responsibility, Maine Chapter

Since PSR Maine first published the DbD report over 15 years ago, climate change has taken hold of our state’s fragile ecosystem. Sea levels have risen on our coast on average by a little over half an inch in just over a decade and about 7.5″ since 1912. Temperatures are also on the rise. Maine’s three climate divisions are warmer now than 30 years ago.

We are seeing increases in vector borne diseases like Lyme disease. Coupled with increases in asthma, cardio vascular disease, and other climate related illness , Maine needs to prepare for how we will respond to the ever growing public health threat of climate change while working to mitigate is underlying causes, namely carbon pollution.

The DbD presentation serves to educate medical and healthcare professionals, policy makers, and climate and health advocates about the health effects of climate change in Maine. The presentation and the 2015 report of the same name highlights some of the major health implications as a result of increased rainfall and temperatures and sea level rise.

Impact of Heat Index on Emergency Department Visits and Deaths in the Northeast: A Regional Collaborative Study
Rebecca Lincoln, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Environmental Health

Extreme heat is a growing public health concern, and the Northeast region is both vulnerable and understudied. The National Weather Service (NWS) issues heat advisories in this region when the heat index (HI) is forecast to exceed 100°F; warnings are not issued until the forecast HI exceeds 105°F. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the association between maximum daily HI and daily emergency department (ED) visits and deaths in this region.

We evaluated the association between summer-time HI, all-cause ED admissions, and all-cause deaths in 15 locations across NH, ME, and RI, between 2000 and 2010. We calculated daily maximum HI from hourly weather data from the NOAA weather station closest to each site. We applied overdispersed Poisson constrained distributed lag nonlinear models controlling for long-term time trends, day of week, and federal holidays to each study site. Effects were modeled on the same day and over the previous 7 days. City-specific estimates were pooled in a meta-analysis to provide a single regional estimate of risk.

Rates of all-cause ED visits and deaths were associated with higher HI. For example, the rate of all-cause ED visits was 2.5% higher (95% CI: 2.0%-3.0%) on days with HI of 95°F versus 75°F, and 7.2% (95% CI: 6.1%-8.3%) higher over the subsequent week. Risk of all-cause death was 7.6% (95% CI: 3.6%-11.8%) higher on the same day, but was not significantly higher over the 1-week lag period.

This project represents a unique regional collaboration across BRACE-funded state health departments and universities. Our preliminary results suggest the presence of adverse health impacts associated with HIs below the current NWS excessive heat thresholds. These locally-relevant results will be communicated to NWS partners in an attempt to revise current thresholds, and will inform future local public health actions.

A Briefing to Inform Community Organizing and Strategic Planning for a Greener Waterville
Jennifer Kierstead, Jennifer Kierstead Consulting, Inc.

We inhabit a data-rich environment in central Maine, in which no one has yet reviewed the body of resources on sustainability and climate disruption and asked: what does this information mean for Waterville, Maine’s future? As part of a Visualizing Climate Adaptation and Community Catalyst process planned in the Waterville area, which aims to rally the community around a vision and action plan for a sustainable, attractive, prosperous and resilient future, our report compiles existing data and resources into a visual and written roadmap of the frontiers of sustainability for this community. Chapters address Infrastructure & Demographics, Food Security, and Climate Change Impacts, with cross-cutting recommendations.  We expect this report to become a living document, periodically updated with the latest developments to facilitate effective community action toward sustainability.

The report concludes that major improvements in public health, energy efficiency, and the local economy would result from investing in Waterville’s long-term sustainability, such as:

  1. Adoption of urban agriculture and advanced landscaping strategies, including use of permaculture gardens and swales, bike and pedestrian paths, permeable street surfaces, renewable energy, reflective rooftops and multi-use parking.
  2. Creation of local food and employment programs for low-income residents to help mitigate local food security issues;
  3. Investment in sustainable and protective infrastructure, particularly updated storm water management facilities, energy-resilient public spaces where vulnerable populations can weather more severe storms and heat events, and retrofitting/renovation of upper floor space in downtown buildings for diverse uses including energy-efficient residential.


Session Co-chairs:
Kathleen Bell, School of Economics, University of Maine
Bridie McGreavy, Communication & Journalism, University of Maine

Coastal beaches and shellfish play a vital role in New England ecosystems, local and state economies, and communities. Presentations in this session will focus on how changes in coastal water quality are affecting – or projected to affect – beaches and shellfish. What new tools, methods, data, and collaborative approaches are available to help anticipate changes in coastal water quality, understand the impacts of these changes, and guide regional and local responses to these changes? What key lessons and insights emerge from diverse projects, programs, and initiatives in our region? This session focuses on water quality issues in coastal Maine and New Hampshire, with an emphasis on safe beaches and shellfish. 

Medomak River Water Quality Project
Philip Garwood, Maine Department of Environmental Protection

The Medomak River is one of Maine’s most productive and important shellfish harvesting areas, with an annual harvest valued at over $1 million and supporting 175 harvesters.  Because of its topography and land use patterns, the upper Medomak estuary is conditional, closing when more than one inch of rain falls within a 24-hour period. During wetter years, the closure days can cause severe economic impact to the shellfish harvesters. The Medomak River Water Quality Project was created in 2012 as a collaborative effort to identify sources and causes and work toward eliminating the rainfall closures.

The DMR conducts routine sampling in all shellfish areas to document that they may remain open. During 2013, the DMR added 3 sampling dates to its normal routine. Along with the increased DMR effort, DEP and Waldoboro volunteers sampled 24 additional stations within the village area and upstream. During 2014, the volunteer effort shifted to focus on the village area and the response of bacteria levels in that area to rainfall. During 2015, the volunteer effort and added DMR sampling were focused on the tributaries directly entering tidewater.

The 2013 results demonstrated that the rainfall closure was warranted, even with the identification and remediation of a number of sources. The 2014 results demonstrated that the village area was likely not the source of bacteria levels closing the river. The 2015 results showed several areas that may be sources of bacterial contamination. Future work will address microbial source tracking and development of a hydrodynamic model.

Tracking Fecal Contamination in Coastal Beach Communities
Lauren Bizzari, FB Environmental Associates

Coastal communities throughout New England are faced with fecal contamination in surface waters that come from multiple sources, including polluted stormwater runoff and malfunctioning septic systems. Pathogens associated with this fecal matter pose a threat to public health and local economies that depend on safe, clean beaches. Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), such as Enterococci, are commonly used to detect sewage contamination in estuarine surface waters and are the basis of US EPA recreational water quality criteria; high levels of FIB have been linked to high incidence of swimmer illness. Parsons Creek is a bacteria-impaired coastal creek that outlets close to popular beach access points in Rye, NH. New England coastal communities, such as Rye, are eager to learn how to better manage human fecal sources of bacteria, but monitoring, tracking, and managing these sources is difficult as the bacterial indicators for fecal pathogens are highly variable to track and measure. Using our eight years of work in Parsons Creek as a case study, we discuss current tools used for tracking and managing sources of fecal contamination and the need for better fecal management tools for these communities (e.g., where our current tools are falling short). We also highlight new alternative indicators, such as male-specific coliphage, which are more similar to pathogens of concern and may be better predictors of human health risk to these communities.

Informing Beach Advisories: Using Data Visualization Techniques to Explore and Better Understand the Maine Healthy Beaches Dataset
Keri Kaczor, Maine Healthy Beaches, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Jeffrey D. Walker, Walker Environmental Research

Maine Healthy Beaches performs state-wide monitoring of fecal indicator bacteria at coastal recreational beaches. In 2012, US EPA recommended a new “Beach Action Value” (BAV) to determine when beach advisories should be posted in order to protect bather health. This new BAV would result in a lower, and thus more restrictive, allowable concentration of indicator bacteria compared to the previous recommended value that is currently used in Maine, and would thus presumably lead to more frequent beach advisories.

MHB is in the process of evaluating their dataset to understand the effect of this change on their monitoring program, the frequency of beach advisories and the potential impact on public health. To assist in this effort, an interactive web-based tool was developed to explore the existing MHB dataset and identify the effect of changing the BAV. Which sites would be most effected? Will new guidelines result in more beach advisories and by how much? Is the new limit as likely protective as the existing one? Data visualization is an increasingly common method of data exploration and communication that can often demonstrate complex relationships through intuitive visual representations. This talk will briefly introduce the challenges surrounding determining the most appropriate BAV for Maine and will focus on how to use data visualization tools to better understand complex datasets, and in this case, the implications of the new recommended BAV guidelines for Maine’s diverse beaches.

Coastal tourism and citizen attitudes about coastal water quality: Risk communication and community engagement for effective coastal zone management in Maine

Citizen Attitudes and Water Quality Improvement
Emma Fox, School of Economics, University of Maine

Coastal Tourism and Polluted Water: Risk Communication and Business Community Engagement in Beach Management in York, Maine
Isaac Leslie, Department of Sociology, University of New Hampshire

Understanding how diverse user groups evaluate tradeoffs associated with differing coastal management strategies is important given that some coastal and inland activities directly impact coastal water quality. Increasing pathogenic bacteria in Maine’s coastal waters is of particular concern for communities whose economies depend on beach tourism or marine industry. Two studies by the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST) social science team investigate the citizen attitudes and perceptions about the risks associated with poor water quality.

The Town of York collects water quality data at public swim beaches and posts public health advisories under appropriate conditions. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire conducted 41 interviews with merchants, who depend on beach tourism, and lifeguards, who represent the primary interface between the town and beachgoers. While York relies on scientific data to develop advisory protocols, participants indicated that beachgoers’ perceptions of water quality are based primarily on visual cues or social factors, not advisories. To reduce risks to beachgoers, managers must raise awareness about beach advisories; however, we find that social and economic barriers discouraged managers from informing visitors about water-related risks.

In 2015, researchers at the University of Maine sent a coast-wide survey to 6,000 people in Maine and New Hampshire (N=509). Citizens were asked about their willingness to pay to support a hypothetical Coastal Water Quality Improvement Program. We find that a citizen’s coastal recreation, attitudes about chemical runoff or pollution, and sense of personal responsibility toward coastal water quality are each predictors of willingness to pay for water quality improvement. Better understanding of attitudes can help coastal managers encourage personal responsibility for coastal water quality and use targeted messages to achieve this objective.


Session Co-chairs:
David Hart, Director, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine
David Courtemanch, Freshwater Science and Policy Specialist, The Nature Conservancy

Dams represent a literal and figurative nexus: a juxtaposition of infrastructure and freshwater ecosystems; an icon of technological innovation, economic prosperity, and cultural identity; a source of renewable energy, opportunity for recreation; a change of ecosystem functions and values, a threat to fisheries and biodiversity. Quite often, dams are also a focal point for stakeholder conflict. This session will examine the challenges and opportunities involved in addressing the future of dams in New England, with a particular emphasis on the environmental, technological, social, and economic trade-offs involved in decision-making. Presentations will examine lessons learned in the past and on-going studies of dams, as well as strategies for incorporating diverse scientific information and stakeholder values to improve future decisions.

Hydropower Regulations: Moving Towards Results Oriented Policies at the State and Federal Level
Patrick Woodcock, Director, Governor’s Energy Office

Director Woodcock will discuss the 2015 Maine Hydropower Potential Report and examine how policies can retain hydropower production while considering environmental externalities.  The discussion will examine changes in federal law, as well as how the Penobscot River Restoration model could drive more fundamental reforms to move to holistic river basin policies.

NOAA’s Penobscot Habitat Focus Area and Dam Decision-making
Matt Bernier, P.E., ERT Contractor/NOAA Restoration Center

In 2014, as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Habitat Blueprint initiative, the Penobscot River watershed was selected as one of only ten Habitat Focus Areas (HFA) in the United States.  The Habitat Blueprint represents an opportunity for large-scale restoration, building off the successful removal of the two lowermost dams on the Penobscot River.  However, with over 30 hydroelectric dams, 100 non-hydroelectric dams and 2,000 culverts in the watershed, a lot of restoration work remains to be done.  Working with partners such as The Nature Conservancy and Maine Sea Grant, NOAA hopes to break down holistic goals for habitat restoration into manageable pieces using multi-year planning and prioritization.  The Orland Village dam, owned by the coastal town of Orland, provides a good example of how NOAA and its partners are working with municipal dam owners on decision-making about the fate of structures that are vulnerable to the possible effects of climate change such as sea level rise and increased storm frequency.  Through technical assistance, monitoring, outreach and related funding, NOAA and its partners can help municipalities like Orland address thorny questions about the future use and condition of dams, environmental contamination, water quality, fish passage, wildlife habitat, public safety, aesthetics, effects on connected infrastructure (bridges, buildings), recreation, water supply, short term and long term costs, and federal regulations.

Variation in Operational Objectives and Associated Biophysical Effects, with Focus on Northern New England
Michael Burke, Inter-Fluve, Inc, Damariscotta, ME

The range of societal benefits derived from the use of our rivers is extensive, including water supply, flood control, power generation, transportation, irrigation and recreation. The presence of dams and impoundments on the landscape impacts the environment by altering basin connectivity for aquatic and terrestrial species, and modifying thermal, hydrologic and sediment regimes, with the magnitude of change unique to each facility. Facility operation can also impact the environment, with a broad array of potential operational effects that vary in character and magnitude depending on the purpose of the facility (e.g., consumptive storage, flood control, hydropower), the architecture of the system (e.g., number, size, and sequence of dams, reservoirs, and diversions), and the physiographic setting (climate, geology, topography). In general, facility operation may lead to a cascade of effects on hydrology, hydraulics, river and floodplain morphology, and riverine ecology, with potentially complex biophysical feedback loops. A series of case studies is used to examine the distribution, trends and nature of dam operations in northern New England to anticipate the range of potential associated effects on regional river systems. The general understanding gained from similar analyses and the associated screening-level tools utilized may assist stakeholders in decision-making processes applied regionally or to individual facilities.

A Watershed Approach to Dam Removal and Dam Management in the Connecticut River Basin
Kim Lutz, Director, Connecticut River Program, The Nature Conservancy

The Connecticut River and its tributaries were integral to the settlement of New England. People have relied on these rivers as sources of food, water, and energy; as settlement and transportation corridors; as a means of diluting pollutants; and for recreation. As the population of this region grew, so did the resource burden on the river ecosystem. Nowhere is this impact felt more acutely than in the construction of dams throughout the watershed. More than 2,700 dams block the Connecticut River and its tributaries, making it the most dammed watershed in North America.  Another 40,000 culverts are estimated basinwide.

While impacts of fragmentation and flow alteration were most certainly present, data was lacking to demonstrate the spatial distribution and severity of these paired threats to river heath. Therefore, capitalizing on new science and thinking in the fields of river flow management and ecology, The Nature Conservancy and its partners the US Army Corps of Engineers, the University of Massachusetts and the US Geological Survey initiated a series of studies to understand how high-value dams, those that generate hydropower, supply water and manage floods, could be operated differently and to determine which obsolete dams could be removed.  Both strategies, reducing the impact of dams through operational changes and strategic dam removals share the goal of increased benefit to the ecological structure and function of rivers within the watershed. These approaches rely on sophisticated models to optimize impact and where the range of potential conservation actions was too large to assess structures individually.  The presentation will address questions of scale, dealing with knowledge gaps and lessons learned from other large river projects.


Session Co-chairs:
Kirsten Ness, Water Resources Specialist, Portland Water District
Andy Tolman, Hydrogeologist

Maine is fortunate to have many sources of clean water that can be used to deliver safe and secure drinking water to people in Maine. These sources, however, must be carefully monitored and managed to maintain their quality. Threats such as storm water runoff, road salt, changing climate, changes in land use, among others can lead to changes in watershed and water quality. This session will focus on threats to water sources and how water suppliers continue to deliver safe drinking water in the face of these threats.

Using Drinking Water Monitoring Data to Build Decision Support Tools
John Peckenham, Associate Director, Senator George J. Mitchell Center, University of Maine

Data collection by water utilities are the basis for decision-support tools to identify threats to water systems and also to gauge the effect of interventions. Drinking water suppliers collect an array of measurements on their source, operating systems, and financial performance. These measurements may range from monitoring to guide operations, to maintaining compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, to assuring quality for consumers. Many of these measurements are used in the short term for management and reporting purposes and then archived. Over time, these data represent a tremendous amount of information that can be used to evaluate operations, detect problems, monitor trends, and help prepare for future conditions. The data can be analyzed using a variety of techniques, depending upon management needs. Two examples are presented, one for surface water systems in Maine and one for community groundwater wells. For surface water systems, we assessed relative utility performance to identify efficiencies. This type of analysis can be used to select priorities for investment or improvement. For groundwater supplies, we analyzed time-series trends in water quality over a decade. This analysis was used to identify water quality parameters that are sensitive to short-term events, as well as to detect longer-term changes. In order to help make the ever-growing data gathering process a useful resource, we suggest building common data management structures that can be accessed for analysis necessary to specific applications.

A Water Utility’s Approach to Prioritizing work in the Sebago Lake Watershed
Paul Hunt, Environmental Manager, Portland Water District

Sebago Lake is Maine’s deepest and second largest lake, is a popular recreation destination, and is used by the Portland Water District (PWD) to provide drinking water to nearly one in six Maine residents.  The water quality of the lake is so outstanding that is exempted from the filtration requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It is also surrounded by a 450 square mile watershed which contains over 50 subwatersheds.

In the past 15 years more than thirty watershed surveys and erosion control projects have been completed in subwatersheds. These projects have been funded in part under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, and projects were often initiated based on interest by citizens or other organizations, rather than prioritized based on where erosion control work would most benefit Sebago Lake. In 2014, PWD partnered with the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District and other stakeholders to develop the Sebago Lake Subwatershed Assessment and Prioritization project. The assessment evaluated each subwatershed and ranked them in order of importance to the overall water quality of Sebago Lake.  The method primarily used existing data and took into account present water quality, water quality trends, land use, and the engagement of local organizations. The results will be used to guide future erosion control work in the watershed to lakes that most benefit the quality of Sebago Lake.

Managing Risk for River and Riverbank Well Drinking Water Sources in Maine
Michael D. Abbott, P.E., C.G., Hydrogeologist and Water Resources Team Leader, Maine CDC Drinking Water Program

Public water systems using direct river intakes, or sand and gravel riverbank wells in close hydraulic connection with rivers, face unique challenges to protect drinking water quality.  As evidenced in the January 2014 Elk River, West Virginia chemical spill, these systems are vulnerable to upstream contamination events affecting the river. When a leak or spill causes pollutants to enter surface water, the river acts as a conduit to rapidly transport contamination to the downstream intake or wellfield. This leaves little reaction time for a public water system to minimize impacts to the treatment plant, distribution system and their customers. In order to address this risk, the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program has initiated a project to evaluate the susceptibility of forty public water systems that use direct river intakes and/or riverbank wells.  New source protection areas have been delineated to include the portion of the watershed upstream from each source to a distance of approximately five miles. Within these source protection areas, potential sources of contamination are being identified, mapped and ranked according to relative potential risk. These may include above ground storage tank facilities, pipelines and sensitive transportation crossings. New source water protection plans (SWPPs) are also being prepared to help operators assess threats to water quality and identify strategies to minimize risk. This project is being combined with chemical spill workshops and scenario exercises to promote greater source protection awareness and efficient communication between public water systems, storage facilities, spill responders and State agencies.

It Can’t Happen Here (or can it?) – Public Drinking Water Supplies and Emergency Preparedness
Susan F. Breau, CG, USDA Source Water Program Manager, Maine Rural Water Association

An accidental spill or release of a chemical substance presents potentially large impacts to public water suppliers and their customers, and the need to collaborate with local and state-level emergency responders. A January 2015 chemical release on the Elk River in West Virginia impacted the downstream capital city of Charleston and left 300,000 people in 9 counties without water for four days. While Maine has been fortunate to not experience such a large-scale event, similar though smaller incidents have occurred here. And many public drinking water sources in Maine are susceptible to a chemical spill or release. Maine Rural Water is partnering with water and sewer districts, the Maine Drinking Water Program, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, county Emergency Management Agencies, local fire and police departments and others to run emergency preparedness workshops and table top exercises. A summary of the goals, outcomes and lessons learned from these programs will be offered during this session.


Session Chair:
Christine Feurt, Director, Coastal Training Program, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Collaborations among scientists, managers, government officials, business and non-profit groups contribute to building resilience, adapting to climate change and sustaining valued ecosystem services. This session focuses on work done on Maine’s coasts and estuaries where diverse partners have collaborated to define problems, develop solutions and engage stakeholders. Presentations will share challenges and successes with an eye toward preparing coastal communities to be resilient in the face of change.

Community Decisions About Innovations in Water Resource Management
James Houle, University of New Hampshire  Stormwater Center

The purpose of this study was to investigate the social, economic and technological factors that influence rates of adoption of innovative stormwater management approaches in municipal organizations in the Great Bay watershed, NH. The scope of this study was to investigate how innovations spread through municipal populations in a specific region and watershed area of the US. The methodology used mixed qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, case studies, and surveys to examine perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs that influence the adoption of innovative stormwater management solutions, as well as the governance characteristics of municipalities at different stages of adoption. Major findings include: adopter categories can be relatively easily and quickly categorized into early and late majorities as a preliminary means to identify populations of ready and willing audiences interested in and capable of advancing innovations; early and late adopter classifications followed general diffusion theory, but differed in substantial ways that could influence overall project or program success; and finally that early majority communities have more internal and external capacity to advance innovations as well as higher levels of peer-to-peer trust to offset perceptions related to economic risk that can either advance or stall innovative stormwater management solution adoption. This research offers insights on how to allocate scarce resources to optimally improve water quality through stormwater management solutions, and makes recommendations for how to effectively and efficiently generate greater understanding of complex barriers to adoption that thwart innovation in municipal governance organizations. One significant implication is that agents of change who want to move innovations through a broad municipal population should focus their efforts on working with innovators and early adopters that have status within relevant peer networks and who have capacity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of innovations.

Identifying Opportunities for Community Resilience: FEMA’s Community Rating System
Amanda Perkins (student), Environmental Studies Program, Bowdoin College

FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) program provides financial incentives for communities to increase flooding resilience through adoption of floodplain management policies.  Communities can receive credits for implementation of specific activities that accrue towards discounts in flood insurance rates. In 2014, digital FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps were adopted by several coastal communities. These digital layers greatly increased the ability of communities to spatially analyze land management activities for potential qualifying CRS credits.  Using these layers, Bowdoin College students and faculty collaborated with state and regional planning agencies to analyze opportunities for communities to qualify for the CRS. Four towns that previously qualified for the CRS or had high number of flood insurance policies were selected as case studies. Using publicly available GIS data, we examined the communities’ potential accrual of credits towards inclusion in the CRS using only areas of conserved lands and municipal shoreland zoning under the Mapping and Regulations category. Results indicate that three of the four communities may be eligible for inclusion. Our research highlights the role of state level GIS data as a critical resource in providing capacity towards communities achieving CRS discounts. We found that modifications to collection and standardization of spatial data could provide key differences in tracking land categories within the flood zones, enabling communities to achieve CRS discounts. Through a collaboration with academic institutions, state agency staff, and regional planning commissions, we were able to develop a transferable model for assessing other coastal communities potential for inclusion in the CRS program.

Evaluating the Vulnerability of Flooding due to Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise on Islesboro, Maine
Leila Pike, E.I.T. , Project Engineer, Ransom Consulting, Inc.

Vulnerability to flooding due to storm surge and sea level rise is being studied on Islesboro using the latest NOAA and IPCC sea level rise projections and the advanced modeling storm surge data from the U.S.A.C.E’s North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) made available this past year. The study is part of an effort to increase the resiliency of the island and help plan for climate change by examining two of the islands most vulnerable locations: Grindle Point and the Narrows. Grindle Point is home of the ferry terminal and the Narrows separates the northern half of the island from all of the public services on the southern half, including the school, fire department, ferry terminal, and health center. Both locations are low in elevation and show complete inundation for a 100-year storm surge event. The study serves as an example of the potential for the NACCS data to be used in resiliency planning for Maine’s coastal communities as it represents the most advanced and sophisticated storm surge and extreme wave conditions data available to-date. The combined storm surge and sea level rise data are used to create detailed Islesboro-specific storm surge and wave statistics to examine the risk of flooding.  Community input is being encouraged to allow residents to help plan for the future of their island by thinking and conversing about which adaptation options follow along with their values as islanders. This effort is funded through a Coastal Communities grant administered by the Maine Coastal Program.

What Makes for Successful Volunteer Environmental Monitoring Programs? Conversations with Program and Volunteer Coordinators
Jason M. Smith, (student), Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine

Volunteer environmental monitoring programs (VEMPs), often considered citizen science programs, have proven to be an effective means of investigation and conducting research. They also connect citizens to their local environment and strengthen awareness of regional and global environmental trends. However, VEMPs pose significant organizational challenges as they grow in complexity due to their aim of achieving multiple objectives, including citizen participation, high quality data and a better managed environment. To improve understanding of these challenges and potential solutions, and to identify best practices, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) interviewed fifteen VEMP coordinators drawn from the local, regional, and national VEMP community. This presentation will report on the results of those interviews and will center on three overarching themes common to VEMPs: 1) program design, 2) operations, and 3) volunteer management. Specific questions addressed will include: Why have VEMPs in the first place? What factors typically affect program sustainability (e.g., staff and volunteer turnover)? What are some technologies currently used to efficiently operate VEMPs? What are some approaches to assure funding for and reduction of operation costs? And how can volunteers be effectively recruited, registered, trained, and retained? Discussion of the findings will be encouraged during this presentation.


Session Chair:
Clifford R. Lippitt, CG, PG, CPG; Senior Geologist, S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc.

Not the hot spring or volcanic heat source associated with geothermal power systems of the western U.S. or Iceland, groundsource heat exchange (GHEX) applications utilize the relatively uniform and constant temperatures of the soil, bedrock and groundwater in the upper 1,500 feet of the earth’s surface. In New England (and elsewhere) there has been an increase in GHEX system applications for both new and retrofitted construction to business, municipal, institutional, and residential projects. This session will include a discussion of the types of GHEX systems, with discussion of regulatory requirements and presentations of methods for the evaluation, design, installation, operation and maintenance of systems as applied in Maine or elsewhere in New England. Case studies will include system design and construction and application challenges associated with this technology. 

Clifford R. Lippitt, CG, PG, CPG; Senior Geologist, S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc.

Groundsource Heat Exchange – An overview
Clifford R. Lippitt, CG, PG, CPG; Senior Geologist, S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc.

Cliff will present an overview of the theory and systems associated with GHEX systems. GHEX systems are low temperature geothermal systems that include open-loop/standing column, vertical closed loop, horizontal closed loop/slinky, lake loop, and direct exchange. The types and sizes of systems that have been installed in Maine will be reviewed.

Hydrogeology and Geochemistry Applied to Standing-Column Well Systems
John R. Kastrinos, P.G., LSP, Haley & Aldrich, Inc.

John will discuss the unique well hydraulics and geochemistry of standing-column wells in commercial-scale applications. The presentation will describe how unique geologic and geochemical conditions affected well installation, water circulation, and system performance in several open ground-source heat pump systems in New England. The measures taken to diagnose and repair the circulation problems will also be described.

Open loop and standing column wells: a driller/installer perspective
Scott Abbotts, Goodwin Well and Water Inc.

Scott will examine the benefits of using a Standing Column Well for both domestic water usage and geothermal heating. He will discuss the different types of Standing Column Wells and the effects of using bleed to maximize the performance of the well and the pitfalls of designing a standing column well properly to meet the needs of the domestic usage and geothermal heating needs.

Testing, design and costs comparisons of GHEX systems
John Waitt, Design Day Mechanicals

John will discuss the required procedures outlined in various energy codes used to determine the heating and cooling needs of a building. Both LEED and Energy Star programs use these guidelines to design more energy efficient buildings. John will discuss the energy use impacts of various fossil fuels and geothermal systems using water source heat pumps, in providing the least operational cost and the lesser environmental impact. He will also examine potential issues that can arise when planning to use standing column wells based on two commercial projects designed in the same year that provided two completely different results, once the drilling finished vs. using closed loop systems where the final capacities of the bore-hole field are generally known.

Closed loop system installation considerations: a driller/installer perspective
Roger Skillings, Skillings & Sons, Inc.

Roger will be talking about the installation of ground source closed loop geothermal systems (wells and piping). His presentation will include a discussion of when and why test wells are installed. He will also discuss the timing and purpose of the various tests performed during the system installation. His discussion on piping and well field design will include a discussion of the utilization of a vault in the piping design.

Geothermal regulations and Maine’s Underground Injection Control Program: What you need to know
Bill Hinkel, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Supervisor, Industrial and Municipal Wastewater Permitting

Discharges from ground source heat exchangers or geothermal wells are regulated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection as underground injection wells.  Bill will provide an overview of the regulations and discuss the types of discharges that are allowable, those that are prohibited, and explain what is necessary to comply with the UIC rule.


Session Co-chairs:
Cheryl Daigle, Executive Director, Maine Lakes Society
Peter Kallin, President, Maine Lakes Society

Healthy lakes are critical to sustaining the environment, cultural opportunities and values, and economic health of communities statewide. Maine residents and countless visitors rely on our freshwater lakes for drinking water, recreation, economic opportunities, and/or spiritual sustenance. Many fish and wildlife species we depend on for food or recreation, or simply the pleasure of viewing, need lake and connected freshwater habitat to survive. Generating more than $3.5 billion annually in economic activity, Maine lakes provide over 52,000 jobs, more than any other single employer in the state. Yet, this resource of inestimable value is showing alarming trends: over a decade of data shows lake health declining in Maine, largely due to lakeshore development practices. We are at increasing risk of losing many of the benefits we derive from our lakes, compromising our future, our quality of life, and opportunities for future generations. Improving land use practices to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and the community benefits that lakes provide us, is vital. Collaboration among diverse lake stakeholders and the business community is key to protecting these public resources. Protection of our lakes for future generations will rely on innovative approaches such as cross-sector partnerships to effect lasting change. This session focuses on efforts by lake organizations to amplify the impact of their work through such cross-sector collaborations, and initiates dialogue about ways that lake communities can harness the power of these broader alliances for lake protection.

Partnerships in Watershed Protection: Building a Common Purpose
Linda Schier, Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance

Successful watershed protection for the abundant lakes in the Acton, Maine/Wakefield, New Hampshire region requires participation from a broad range of partners. Funders, scientists, technical advisors, local leaders and, above all, individuals, must focus on the common purpose of maintaining or restoring water quality.

Throughout the development and implementation of the Salmon Falls Headwater Lakes Watershed Management Plan and the Province Lake Watershed Management Plan, the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance has choreographed the multiple partners, working with their varying perspectives and skills, in the dance of effective planning, restoration, and protection projects. Major road repairs, residential erosion control landscaping, water quality monitoring, beach clean-ups, septic surveys, ordinance updates, and informative workshops are examples of the tools that AWWA employs to build investment in the common purpose of clean water.

Advancing Lake Science Through Research-based Partnerships: Developing the Maine Lake Science Center
Peter Lowell, Executive Director, Lakes Environmental Association

The Maine Lake Science Center, an outgrowth of Lakes Environmental Association’s (LEA) 45-year program of watershed monitoring, management, and education, opened its doors in Bridgton this past summer. The development of this Center builds upon activities occurring throughout the State, led by a host of organizations and agencies. Collectively, we recognize the pressing need to improve the connections between lake science and decision making in local and state policy to enhance the resilience of lake ecosystems and human communities. The goal of the Maine Lake Science Center is to link with existing efforts to advance the understanding of Maine lakes by fostering collaborations between academic researchers, regional organizations, businesses, community members, policy directors and local and state governmental entities.  This effort involves multi-partner initiatives to study and improve in-lake conditions and trends, social networks, communication infrastructure, decision making, and lake-related policy.

In this presentation, we describe the development of the Center, our innovative partnership strategies informed by communication and sustainability science research, our current projects, and future directions. We provide specific example drawn from LEA’s ongoing work on lake testing and research, education, technical assistance to municipal officials and landowners, invasive aquatic plant control, natural resource projects, and the legislative outreach to demonstrate how our experiences in these contexts inform our approach to linking science with policy. We conclude with a discussion of how this model could be used throughout New England to improve the connections between science and policy to protect and sustain important water resources.

A Social Science-Physical Science Collaboration to Evaluate the Potential for Water Quality Decline and Enhance Lake Stewardship in Maine – Part 1: Physicochemical Indicators
Stephen Norton, School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine

Vulnerability assessment of Maine lakes has historically focused on hydrologic and land-use characteristics, ignoring in-lake physicochemical indicators and local stakeholder engagement. This study focuses on coupled dynamics of this social-ecological system to (1) develop comprehensive vulnerability metrics that combine the latter components to predict which Maine lakes are more susceptible to water quality deterioration, and (2) develop a blueprint of activities that can positively influence stewardship behaviors among the public. This first of a two-part presentation describes the physiochemical controls on eutrophication brought about by excess phosphorous. The second part will focus on the results of surveys of local stakeholders and provide insight into stewardship enhancement opportunities. This collaborative investigation involves UMaine, USM, ME DEP, VLMP citizen scientists, and lake associations.

Twenty-four lakes were chosen based on a continuum of citizen involvement (level of activity of lake residents, low to high) and trophic status (oligotrophic to eutrophic). Water and sediment samples were collected during early and late summer, with the second round of sampling done in collaboration with VLMP citizen scientists. Water was analyzed for numerous chemicals, with a focus on phosphorus and oxygen. Sediment chemical characteristics including the ratio of extractable aluminum to iron, and the reducible phosphorous; and lake physicochemical characteristics including watershed area, lake flushing rate, thermal stratification strength, and depth and duration of anoxia were included in this model. The Vulnerability Index developed here will enhance our ability to classify lakes with respect to risk of eutrophication, and inform stakeholders about the condition of their lake.

A Social Science-Physical Science Collaboration to Evaluate the Potential for Water Quality Decline and Enhance Lake Stewardship in Maine – Part 2: Stakeholder Engagement
Firooza Pavri, Professor, Geography-Anthropology, University of Southern Maine

Freshwater resources provide vital societal and ecosystem services, the sustainability of which necessitates novel approaches to understanding the complex factors that influence their well-being. Our study provides a cross-disciplinary approach, engaging both the physical and social sciences, to assess the vulnerability of Maine lakes to water quality decline. Twenty four lakes were selected based on a continuum of citizen involvement (level of activity of lake residents, low to high) and trophic status (oligotrophic to eutrophic). In this second of a two-part presentation, we report on the results of a survey conducted to assess the role of stakeholders in data collection, monitoring and conservation management vis-à-vis lake stewardship. Survey data were collected by volunteer monitors and lake association members belonging to the 24 study lakes. The survey instrument collected demographic information to build a profile of the stakeholder community, in addition to data on contributions to lake associations, the types/frequency of activities conducted, and stakeholder rationale for participation. Open-ended questions provided more in-depth data on stakeholder knowledge and use of Maine lakes, and insights about the environmental and stewardship issues related to lakes based on their first-hand experiences. These insights enable us to assess stakeholder engagement, will contribute to the development of a more comprehensive vulnerability index, and shed light on strategies that encourage positive conservation stewardship outcomes for Maine lakes.


Session Facilitator:
Travis Blackmer, School of Economics & Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine

UMaine’s Materials Management team will share the direction of their current working groups with stakeholders. Topics to be covered include organics, data collection, community engagement, and reuse. Discussions will focus on how the team’s work with stakeholders can lead to better outcomes.

Session 1: Outlining the Sustainability Crisis
Talking Trash
Presenters: Senator George J. Mitchell Center Research Team

Session 2: Organics Diversion in Maine: How, Where, and What
Partners from across the state will discuss how they are diverting organics out of the waste stream.


Session 3: The Impact of Reuse in Maine
Impactful Reuse entities will present their success in diverting materials.


  • Ruth Libby of Ruth’s Reusables will discuss her organization’s activities in supplying free materials to teachers for the past 20 years
  • Joanne Andrews of the Town of Limerick will highlight their town’s reuse shop that has been thriving with the support of the town and the community

Session 4: Community Engagement: What is happening and is it successful?

Presenters will highlight current efforts to educate households, businesses, and institutions on how to do better with behaviors.


  • Ross Nason of the Maine Resource Recovery Association will discuss the State trade association’s activities to educate municipalities and businesses
  • Lisa Bitterman of ecomaine will highlight their education and outreach program with citizens, schools, and businesses


Session Chairs:
UMaine Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative

Creating and maintaining sustainable food systems is a critical and growing challenge to global society. Population growth, demographic shifts, climate change, and income inequality impact the food system at all levels. Maine ranks first in New England in food insecurity; one in four of Maine’s children are at risk. Building capacity in our universities and communities to foster engaged research—research that generates solutions to real-world problems—is crucial to fostering sustainable communities and responsive food systems. We are seeking oral papers and posters that demonstrate collaborative approaches on a range of topics related to Sustainable Food Systems including but not limited to: agricultural practices, production and distribution; marketing and consumption; food insecurity; as well as social, ethical, and political concerns.

How Recent Data Insights Are Changing the Story of Our Food System
Riley Neugebauer, Farm & Sea to Campus Coordinator, Farm to Institution New England
Daniel Ungier, Executive Director, Medomak Valley Land Trust
Kyle Foley, Sustainable Seafood Brand Manager, Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI)

There are some big questions in the food system in Maine and in New England related to farmland access, equity and justice, aging farmers, and the capacity to supply food to large buyers like institutions.  These questions are only beginning to be answered as studies are conducted and data sets like the 2012 USDA Agricultural Census are analyzed.  There is a need for ongoing analysis in various areas of the food system, and a need for advocates, consumers, the media, and others to use data to paint a more accurate picture of the food system in Maine and in the region.  There are common stories that are told about agriculture and our food system, which ultimately shape our culture, consumer and business choices, and policy.  Existing and future research and analysis can help us to tweak and reframe those stories to better reflect what is really happening, and to create more informed choices and policy.

Using data from the 2012 Ag Census, Farm to Institution New England’s Metrics Project, New England groundfish landings tracked by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other sources, we will highlight some interesting findings about beginning farmer demographics in Maine and New England, New American Farmers in Maine and their impact on agriculture, institutional food procurement in the region, and the market forces impacting Gulf of Maine fishermen.  This will highlight important elements of our food system that may often go unnoticed or untold, and lead to a discussion with the audience about how to use this information and how to identify additional research and analysis needs in the state.

Understanding the Human Dimensions of Crop Pollination Security in Maine and Beyond
Sam Hanes, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Maine

Honey bees are the world’s most important domesticated crop pollinator. In the U.S., hive prices have risen in part due to increased demand, greater shipping distances, and larger winter die-offs. At the same time, the pollinator-dependent crop acreage is increasing. To ensure sufficient future crop pollination, scientists are working to understand factors affecting honey bee health and to help farmers use alterative sources of pollination, especially wild bees, more systematically. The purpose of our study is to work with farmers to better understand their needs regarding wild bees management. To this end, we have worked since 2012 with wild blueberry growers in Maine and Prince Edward Island, Canada to understand the challenges they face when they try to intensify use of wild bees. We highlight three significant results here. The first is that farmers have high uncertainty regarding wild bees and this affects the kind of tools and advice they need. The second is that farmers have different crop management styles and are more amenable to intensifying wild bee management. Different management styles require flexible tools and advice. The third is that farmers adapt advice and tools in diverse and sometimes unexpected ways. Understanding what tools farmers want, and how they will be adapting them, is necessary for improving crop pollination security. This research shows the importance of collaboration with farmers in designing agricultural sustainability solutions.

From Cod to Clams: Rethinking the Role of Seafood in Maine’s Food System
Anne Hayden, Manomet/Downeast Fisheries Partnership

Maine fisheries are an important component of the state’s food system. In 2014, 300 million pounds of fish and shellfish, worth over $585 million, were landed in Maine – driven in very large part by the lobster fishery. As largely an export crop, lobster contributes much more to the production side of Maine’s food system than to the consumption side.  Historically, Mainers had access to a wide variety of locally caught seafood; today, there is growing evidence that fisheries can once again play an important role on the consumption side of our food system.

While Maine’s lobster fishery is globally considered as sustainable and a management success, cod, the species that sparked colonization of the new world, is near collapse; other species have also declined. But the successful rebuilding of Maine’s scallop fishery and the nascent recovery of halibut stocks are indicators that Maine fisheries other than lobster can contribute to our food system.

Two factors are driving the revival of fisheries in Maine.  One is the recognition that fisheries management must be tailored to the local nature of our fisheries.  Lobster, alewives, clams and scallops are each managed as a partnership between the state and municipalities or in the case of the lobster fishery, zone management councils. The second factor is the restoration of anadromous species, such as the alewife, now understood to be a keystone species in marine food chains.  Maine’s coastal waters have the potential to produce sustainable harvests – and contribute once again to Maine’s food system.

A Multi-Disciplinary Model: Maine Farmland Trust’s Comprehensive Approach to Food System Resiliency

Panel Discussion

  • Sara Trunzo, Facilitator, Veggies For All Director, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Mike Gold, Farm Viability Program Manager, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Amanda Beal, Policy and Research Fellow, Maine Farmland Trust
  • Erica Buswell, Land Protection and Beginning Farmers Project Manager

Up to 400,000 acres of Maine farmland will change hands in the next decade, due to our aging farmland owners. Future food production, distribution, and population growth models suggest that Maine farms will become an increasingly vital player in the East Coast food system.  Meanwhile, Maine continues to rank as the most food insecure state in New England, with over 200,000 citizens facing hunger and a similar number utilizing SNAP benefits.

These trends in land ownership, food and agriculture business, food access, and Maine’s environment make our state a place both of vulnerability and opportunity. Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) is an innovative land trust, not only working to protect farmland resources- but engaging in a wide variety of programs including farmland transition, farmland reclamation, agricultural ecosystem research, beginning farmer support, food hub development, nutrition incentive utilization modeling, and food bank farming. This presentation seeks to report on the successes, challenges, and meaningful data the organization has garnered through current and past programs addressing food system sustainability and resiliency.
Staff panelists will highlight how MFT- through synergistic farmland access, restoration, farm viability, and food access programs- has expanding the definition of “land trust” to also mean a regional resource that supports farmers at all stages of farm development, ecosystem resilience, community food security.


Session Chair:
Aaron Weiskittel, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

Maine continues to have an economy heavily dependent on its forest resource with land conservation becoming an increasingly important goal. This session will provide multiple perspectives on Maine’s forest resource and the roles that conservation, past and present management as well as future economic conditions will play in shaping future outcomes. Key topics to be addressed include current trends in land conservation, the role of ecological reserves, changing forest practices and the role of policy, and the influence that current and potential markets will play.

Maine Ecological Reserves: Forest benchmarks in a changing landscape
Andy Cutko, Maine Natural Area Programs

Ecological Reserves are lands specifically set aside to protect and monitor the State of Maine’s natural ecosystems. These lands are managed by the Bureau of Parks and Public Lands, and the Maine Natural Areas Program oversees the long-term ecological monitoring plan. As of 2013, Maine has designated more than 90,000 acres of Ecological Reserves on 17 public land units. The original designation was enabled by an act of the Maine Legislature in 2000. As specified in the legislation, the purposes of the Reserves are (Public Laws of Maine, Second Regular Session of the 119th, Chapter 592): (1) “to maintain one or more natural community types or native ecosystem types in a natural condition and range of variation and contribute to the protection of Maine’s biological diversity”; (2) “as a benchmark against which biological and environmental change may be measured, as a site for ongoing scientific research, long-term environmental monitoring and education”; and (3) “to protect sufficient habitat for those species whose habitat needs are unlikely to be met on lands managed for other purposes”. Reserves were designated following a multi-year inventory and assessment project coordinated by the Maine Forest Biodiversity Project, with staff assistance from The Nature Conservancy, the Maine Natural Areas Program, and the Bureau of Parks and Public Lands. They range in size from 775 acres at Wassataquoik Stream in T3 R7 WELS to over 11,000 acres at Nahmakanta in Rainbow Twp. This talk will provide an overview of the program and recent observed trends from repeated measurements of permanent plots.

Nineteen percent of Maine in conservation – How we got here and issues for the future
Dr. Lloyd Irland, Irland Group

Maine is now 19% covered by publicly owned lands and conservation easements. Maine was more than a century behind other Northeastern states in deciding that public land is an important element of conservation policy. Once it entered its belated era of acquisition, Maine landowners and NGO’s and state agencies pioneered in large-scale conservation easements to immunize large areas against subdividing and development. Basically, over history, though, Maine has liked conservation so long is it’s paid for by someone else. Current political gridlock over the Land for Maine’s Future Board and the feckless action of Congress in allowing the Land and Water Conservation Fund to lapse raise concerns about whether Maine’s era of Acquisition is at an end.

Lessons for Maine’s Sustainable Forest Industry from the Oregon Experience
Mindy Crandall, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine

What we use and value from trees and forests has shifted over time. Although we often hear rumors that forestry is dead or dying, the adaptation and evolution of forestry and forest practices in states such as Oregon and Maine shows that it’s still a necessary industry – even if it doesn’t look quite like it used to. We can look to experiences and outcomes in other places to help guide our actions locally, and ensure continued sustainability of the resource and industry.

Modeling long-term effects of invasive pests on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in Northeastern forests
Dr. Katherine Crowley, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Multiple sources of disturbance— invasive insects and pathogens, climate change, land use, etc.—are changing the composition of northeastern U.S. forests. Individual tree species strongly influence key forest ecosystem functions, such as carbon (C) storage and nitrogen (N) retention, through differences in nitrogen uptake, productivity, carbon allocation, litter quality, and other traits. To examine how species change may alter long-term forest C and N cycling, we developed a new forest ecosystem model (called Spe-CN) that allows tree species composition to change over time and is parameterized and tested with field data from Northeastern forests. We are currently using the Spe-CN model to predict long-term effects of tree species change due to invasive pests (e.g., hemlock woolly adelgid, beech bark disease) on plant production, C storage in vegetation and soils, and nitrate leaching to surface waters. Predicted effects on C and N pools and process rates vary by species and with time since invasion, suggesting that future predictions will need to account for tree species change to generate meaningful estimates of C and N storage and loss.


Session Chair:

Sharon Klein, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, UMaine

This session will discuss Maine’s energy future and the different options and strategies being proposed and implemented to further the state’s energy security. Abstracts submitted for presentation may include the following topics and related research into the economic and social impacts of these approaches: renewable energy technologies in Maine including tidal, off-shore wind, solar and biofuels; the role of hydropower in Maine’s future energy needs; the role of efficiency in lowering energy needs; and advancement and implementation of community-based energy solutions for the region.

Learning from the Islands: How an innovative approach to energy efficiency can help Maine reach its energy goals

Benjamin Algeo, Island Institute

Energy costs are a pervasive issue in Maine, and nowhere is this problem more acute than on Monhegan and Matinicus, Maine’s two most remote year-round island communities. These islands both rely on diesel generators for their power, causing them to pay the highest electricity rates in the state; about $0.70/kWh. Additionally, the cost of heating fuel is higher on both islands, due to shipping premiums. Energy efficiency investments can help reduce these costs over time, but are often difficult to access due to high upfront costs.  Demand aggregation of energy efficiency goods and services has been adopted as a strategy on these islands.

The Island Institute has administered several programs to aggregate demand for energy efficiency goods and services on a community-wide basis.  These programs include the award-winning “Weatherization Week”, heat pump and LED bulk purchase groups, and interior storm window building workshops.  These programs have been replicated in mainland communities and, in addition to providing energy savings, have also been proven to increase civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and energy literacy.

Aggregating demand for energy efficiency goods and services produces cost savings by taking advantage of shared shipping and disposal costs and increasing purchasing power;  leverages financial resources and volunteer labor; and increases knowledge in a community of the benefits of energy efficiency investments.  Demand aggregation could be an effective strategy for tackling high energy costs, increasing accessibility to and participation in programs in other parts of the state, and meeting state-wide goals.

Economic Assessment of a New Process for Producing Drop-In Biofuels from Forest Residues 

Robert Langton (student), University of Maine

Increasing concerns over environmental issues have led researchers to search for new sources of renewable energy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the race to develop commercially viable liquid fuels to power the transportation sector.  The University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) has entered into this race by developing a unique process called Acid Hydrolysis Dehydration (AHDH) that converts forest harvest residues into drop-in diesel fuel. The purpose of my research is to determine the cost and profit of producing TDO biofuel from Maine-based forest residues. My research builds on previous work, which calculated the cost of delivered biomass to a processing plant. I extend that study to the pump by: 1) estimating the processing and transportation costs for the biofuel; 2) varying existing capital and operating costs estimates to reflect different returns to scale seen in the cellulosic ethanol industry; and 3) adding a profit calculation. Current results show that biofuel from forest residues costs $5-$10/gallon to produce in Maine. Profit results are forthcoming. Though this is currently not cost competitive with fuels produced from conventional fossil fuel sources, additional subsidies may make these fuels competitive in the near future.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Community Solar in Three New England States

Stephanie Coffey, School of Economics, University of Maine

Community solar may be a complementary approach to top-down methods of facilitating solar deployment. Yet, despite financial advantages offered by economics of scale, community solar projects face unique challenges with respect to state and federal financial incentives. For community solar to proliferate in New England, these projects must offer owners a positive return on investment.

We consider six categories of projects broadly meeting a definition of community solar, including community-shared solar arrays, Solarize campaigns, and solar installed on municipal buildings, K-12 schools, universities, places of worship and other non-profit organizations. Drawing from an original, national dataset of community renewable energy projects, we estimate net present value (NPV) for 553 community solar projects in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont under three financial incentive scenarios: 1) no incentives; 2) current incentives; and 3) reinstating recently lapsed incentives.

Initial results indicate that without incentives, very few community solar projects yield positive NPVs. However, the generous current incentives offered by the state of Massachusetts yield positive NPVs for all project typologies. This contrasts with Vermont, where Solarize and solar farms are the only financially viable community solar models.  Maine is currently completing its first Solarize campaign, and solar farms are the only typology to offer a positive NPV in the state. Generally, the NPV of all project types is lowest in Maine, as a result of low energy costs and the lack of available incentives, suggesting that additional state level incentives would be required to propel the success of community solar in our state.

New Solar PV Hybrid Made in Maine

Richard Komp & John Burke, Maine Solar Energy Association

Back in 1975, Richard Komp had the idea of combining photovoltaic cells and a solar water heating absorber plate into the same collector. At that time, PV cells were very expensive and the idea was to use reflectors to increase the amount of sunlight falling on the PV cell to increase the current output of the cell. However, when you do this the PV cell will get very hot and lose efficiency; so his idea was to use water to cool the PV cell and then utilize the heat removed in a DHW system. With crystalline silicon cells, the loss in efficiency doesn’t get large until almost the boiling point of water so the hybrids have an operating temperature of 140º F (60º C).

This year we decided to try an old idea others had tried, simply building a thermal heat transfer device on the back of a standard commercial PV module. Last August we had a solar workshop in Jonesport, Maine, where we modified a 245 watt Canadian Solar crystalline silicon PV Module.  The module can be used in any position and the tube end unions will be lined up from one module and the next. The copper array is not touching the back of the PV array, but a thin aluminum absorber plate is glued to the Dupont Tedlar (polyvinyl-fluoride), back-sheet. The silicone caulk glue is a good conductor of heat, even though it is a good electrical insulator. This module has now been installed and we have information on its operation. The cooling effect of the water in the back, makes the PV cells slightly more efficient, so the electrical performance  goes up on the average.

Several thermo-couples on the module make sufficient measurements to produce an F-curve and other data on the efficiency and performance of the finished modules. This is a work in progress but the full report will have the scientific data.  We will also report on the second prototype, with an all aluminum design built for am apartment complex in San Francisco.  This design will not be patented, since so many people have already tried out the idea, so feel free to go ahead and do this yourself.


Session Chair:
Bill Gawley, Acadia National Park

For over four decades, Acadia National Park managers have collaborated with a host of federal, state, academic, and community organizations in numerous aquatic and estuarine research and monitoring projects. The wealth of findings from these projects have led to a better understanding of, and ability to protect the parks unique but vulnerable water resources. As Acadia celebrates its centennial in 2016, this session will highlight some of these collaborations and provide a glimpse at the direction of water science studies in the next hundred years.

Lake transparency: a window into decadal variations in dissolved organic carbon concentrations in Lakes of Acadia National Park, Maine
Collin S. Roesler, Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science, Bowdoin College

A forty year time series of Secchi depth observations from approximately 25 lakes in Acadia National Park, Maine, USA, evidences large variations in transparency between lakes but relatively little seasonal cycle within lakes. However, there are coherent patterns over the time series, suggesting large scale processes are responsible. It has been suggested that variations in colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) are primarily responsible for the variations in transparency, both between lakes and over time and further that CDOM is a robust optical proxy for dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Here we present a forward model of Secchi depth as a function of DOC based upon first principles and bio-optical relationships. Inverting the model to estimate DOC concentration from Secchi depth observations compared well with the measured DOC concentrations collected since 1995 (RMS error < 1.3 mg C l-1). This inverse model allows the time series of DOC to be extended back to the mid‑1970s when only Secchi depth observations were collected, and thus provides a means for investigating lake response to climate forcing, changing atmospheric chemistry and watershed characteristics, including land cover and land use.

Mitigation of Flooding at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center and the Park Loop Road, Great Meadow Wetland, Acadia National Park, Maine
Pamela J. Lombard, US Geological Survey Maine Water Science Center

The Great Meadow wetland drains out of the park via Cromwell Brook through an undersized and failing culvert under the Park Loop Road. Water undermines the integrity of the historic road at high flows. In addition, water floods the Sieur de Mont development at the head of Great Meadow during heavy rain events. Flooding has damaged numerous historic buildings, caused the closure of the public restroom facilities, and inundated the park’s botanical gardens at the Wild Gardens of Acadia. USGS characterized storm flows, built a hydraulic model of Cromwell Brook through the meadow using survey data and Lidar, and tested mitigation scenarios.  Modeling indicates that enlarging the undersized culvert downstream of Great Meadows will mitigate for the very large storm events, and conform to best practices for sizing culverts for aquatic organisms.  Overland flow, however, likely causes the more frequent flooding at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center. Better local drainage systems could mitigate for flooding in that area.

Drivers of Declining Epilimnion Thickness in Acadia National Park and Implications for Phytoplankton
Nora Theodore (student), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine

Water transparency has been declining across Acadia National Park in recent decades. This change in transparency is accompanied by shallower epilimnion thickness in lakes across the Park. Using high frequency data from the Jordan Pond Buoy and additional survey data, we found that observed changes in clarity were largely due to changes in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and precipitation events. Experiments were performed in Jordan Pond and Seal Cove to simulate how changing light regimes with altered epilimnion thickness may have biological impacts. Three light levels were tested to simulate current mixing conditions, as well as deeper or shallower conditions. The experiment revealed that high light (i.e., a thinner epilimnion) resulted in lower chlorophyll concentration, but little change in phytoplankton cell densities or species composition. This suggests that changing epilimnion thickness may have stronger effects on phytoplankton physiology than abundance or diversity. Understanding the drivers of declining epilimnion thickness and how phytoplankton will respond to these change is essential to predict future water quality conditions in Acadia National Park.

Monitoring Coordination in Cromwell Brook and its Benefit to the Wild Acadia initiative
Brian Henkel, Wild Acadia Project Coordinator

The Wild Acadia initiative seeks to restore the ecological integrity, improve the natural resilience, and maintain the historical authenticity of watersheds in Acadia National Park (ANP). ANP has partnered with Friends of Acadia and the Maine Natural History Observatory to implement the goals of Wild Acadia in the Cromwell Brook watershed, which includes a variety of landscapes from natural forests, coastal mountains, and large wetland meadows to highly altered environments including large industrial facilities, golf courses, and urbanized areas. This watershed is of interest to a variety of researchers including Acadia National Park, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Maine, College of the Atlantic, and Mount  Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Through a coordinated approach to sampling the researchers and ANP staff were able to synchronize the timing of sampling events, standardize the methods used for sampling, and improve consistency in parameters analyzed. The coordination provides an enhanced ability to assess spatial variability in water quality conditions beyond what could be done by any of the individual research projects. This expanded capacity provides new opportunities to examine watershed processes involving multiple spatial scales, close data gaps, and evaluate more factors influencing environmental conditions with reduced cost to any single researcher. Challenges to the collaborative efforts include the varied goals, sampling approaches, and project funding and reporting requirements. After a first year of using this collaborative approach, we hope to strengthen this collaboration with more direct communication, better synchronization and coordination of sampling, and more transparent data sharing over the long term.