Road to Solutions — Freshwater Resources

Filling glass from faucetGetting Over the Dam

Atlantic salmon populations in Maine have declined over previous decades and remain critically low. Despite extensive hatchery supplementation and habitat improvement efforts made by management agencies over the last four decades, there has been no clear population response and extinction of the species remains an immediate threat.

Future of Dams (New England Sustainability Consortium)

This four-year study examines the future of dams in New England and marks an expansion in partners and scope for the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), an innovative collaboration focused on increasing the safety of coastal beaches and shellfish beds that are threatened by bacterial pollution and other microbial pathogens…

Engaging Citizen Scientists to Evaluate the Potential for Water Quality Decline in Maine Lakes

This collaborative project conducts a focused study of 20 Maine lakes to develop a lake Vulnerability Index that combines both stakeholder engagement parameters and physical indicators to predict which lakes are more susceptible to deterioration in water quality…

Protecting Natural Resources at the Community Scale

Many Maine communities are facing the same dilemma: how to maintain economic viability without compromising the ecological integrity of natural resources that attract people to Maine. An SSI research team is using local vernal pool conservation as a model to help communities find ways to balance economic development with natural resource conservation on private land…

Maine’s Changing Winter: Focus on natural resources, ecology, and the economy – WRRI 2017

Despite our state’s reputation for having cold, snowy winters, Maine scientists and stakeholders do not currently have a depth of expertise in, or knowledge of, the impacts of our changing winter.

Contamination of Messalonskee Lake by pharmaceuticals and chemicals in personal care products – WRRI 2017

Contamination from
 pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) is an emerging and alarming threat to ecosystems and public health. A growing body of research has documented PPCP contamination of lakes and streams all over the world and the effects of these chemicals on aquatic ecosystems.

Vernal Pools for Me – WRRI 2016

The Vernal Pools for Me project highlights and enhances the connection between stakeholders and their vernal pools by encouraging understanding of these special, small water resources through a portfolio of outreach materials…

Mining in Maine: Exploring Public Perception – WRRI 2016

Maine has a legacy of mining massive sulfide deposits for metals including copper and zinc. Understanding resident perceptions about metallic mineral mining, and potential impacts on the economy, quality of place, and natural resources in Maine is crucial as the legislature considers changes to the laws governing mining activities. The goal of this project is to identify perceptions on mining laws in Maine by using both qualitative and quantitative research. Phase one will include an analysis of secondary data (testimony, workshops and hearing). In Phase two we will conduct a resident survey to measure attitudes and beliefs towards mining in Maine…

Assessing the Vulnerability of Maine’s Drinking Water Resources to Extreme Precipitation Events – WRRI 2016

As our climate changes, so do extreme rain and snow events, which have increased in frequency in the Northeastern U.S. by more than 50 percent since the 1950s. For example, on September 30, 2015, Bangor received 5.27 inches of rain in one day. This increase in the rate and intensity of precipitation events and associated rapid runoff is threatening Maine’s high-quality water supplies—more than half of which come from 46 lakes dotted around the state.These extreme events wash organic matter into lakes that can ultimately cause a build up of what’s called “organic carbon,” some of which is in solution as dissolved organic carbon, or DOC for short. Increased DOC can trigger algal blooms, taste and odor problems, and may form by-products. Many water utilities in Maine have expressed concern about these potential problems..

Completed Projects:

Toward a More Efficient UV Disinfection System – WRRI 2015
In Maine and other New England states, lakes are often used as a drinking water source; the largest three municipalities in Maine (Portland, Lewiston-Auburn and Bangor) use lakes as their primary source for drinking water. In recent years, many lakes in the region have been experiencing a higher frequency of algal blooms, most of which are the harmful blue-green algae. Many water treatment plants with a surface water source, including the three mentioned above, use direct UV photolysis as a means for disinfection…

Understanding Cyanobacterial Blooms in Lakes – WRRI 2015
This collaborative research incorporates cutting-edge microbial genetics and characterization of cyanobacteria blooms, with a focus on Gloeotrichia echinulata, alongside dynamic metrics of nitrogen (N) cycling by lake phytoplankton and bacteria. This suite of measurements will be taken across a gradient of low nutrient to high nutrient lakes through the ice-free season in the Belgrade Lakes catchment to better understand the role ecosystem N dynamics and microbial community composition may play in the development of cyanobacterial blooms…

Hydrology of Maine Vernal Pools – WRRI 2015
Vernal Pools are discrete seasonal wetlands that provide critical habitat for species adapted to ephemeral water regimes and are ecologically linked to surrounding terrestrial environments. Hydrology creates the unique conditions needed to form and sustain vernal pool systems, but few studies have described their hydrology. To predict the consequences of development on vernal pools and to make informed decisions that balance wetland conservation and human needs, it is imperative for resource managers and other stakeholders to understand the hydrologic linkages between vernal pools and the surrounding environment…

Connecting Land Cover and Climate to Sebago Lake Drainage Network Processes – WRRI 2014
This project seeks to quantify connections between physiographic setting, land cover, climate and hydraulic conditions within tributaries draining to Sebago Lake in southern Maine. The interest in the connections is based on the assumption that changes to the tributaries resulting from human activities has implications to water quality and aquatic habitat conditions in the lake and its surrounding satellite ponds…

Safeguarding a Vulnerable Watershed
Sebago Lake is many things to many people: drinking water for about 200,000 Greater Portland residents, a place to play and a source of hydropower. This research team is working to create new tools to aid in planning and policy decisions to help safeguard Sebago’s future…

Phosphorus Cycling in Lake Auburn – WRRI 2014
Controls of phosphorus cycling in Lake Auburn, Maine, USA: Spatial and temporal interactions among sediment, water column, and climate change
Lake Auburn, Maine, serves as the major drinking water source to the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. It has historically had high water quality, as characterized by consistent low turbidity and a nonexistent or mild hypolimnetic anoxia; as a result, the water from the lake has been exempt from filtration by the EPA…

Diadromous Species Restoration Research Network
The goal of the Diadromous Species Restoration Research Network (DSRRN) is to advance the science of diadromous fish restoration and promote state-of-the-art scientific approaches to multiple-species restoration through workshops, conferences, web sharing, and journal publications.

Restoring Maine’s Rivers
The health of Maine’s rivers may be key to the future of the state’s commercial and sports fisheries—and to the economies of the communities that have relied on them. This SSI team is studying alewife restoration in the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers, and the ecological and economic impacts of these efforts on fisheries and economies from the headwaters to the coast…

Sustaining Our Lakes
Maine’s 5,700-plus lakes pump an estimated $2.5 billion into the state’s economy every year. Human activity, however, is reducing water quality in many lakes, which affects everything from property values to tourism dollars to fish. A team at Colby College is studying the Belgrade Lakes Watershed as a model for creating new strategies to improve and protect lake water quality and promote sustainability in surrounding communities…

Sustaining Quality of Place in the Saco River Estuary through Community Based Ecosystem Management
After several decades of clean-up efforts, the Saco River Estuary is coming back to life. Surrounding communities are now turning to the estuary as a source of renewal and economic development, but new pressures are emerging, including increasing coastal development. Understanding how these pressures affect the estuary and developing new tools to help stakeholders safeguard its health is the focus of this SSI project…

Charting the Rangeley Region’s Social-Ecological System and Identifying Community Sustainability Strategies
The Rangeley region’s history as a tourist destination and source for the forest products industry tie its socioeconomic opportunities to the viability and character of its natural landscape. The region has recently undergone rapid change as land ownership has shifted from pulp and paper companies to financial capital…