Maine Water Resources Research Institute

At the land grant university of each state, a small federal grant provides base support for a program that identifies water resources research needs, finds university researchers capable of conducting useful research, and leverages federal funds to sponsor the needed investigations. The State Water Resources Research Institute Program (WRRI)  is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). As Maine’s congressionally-authorized water institute, the Maine Water Resources Research Institute receives base funding to operate programs tailored to meet Maine’s water resource needs.

Click here for information on WRRI funding opportunities.

vernalthumbnail copper Filling glass of tap water
Vernal Pools for ME Mining in Maine: Exploring Public Perception Assessing the Vulnerability of Maine’s Drinking Water Resources

2017 Projects:

Maine’s Changing Winter: Focus on natural resources, ecology, and the economy
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
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.

2016 Projects:

Vernal Pools for ME
The Vernal Pools for ME project highlights and enhances the connection between stakeholders and  vernal pools by encouraging understanding of these special, small water resources through a portfolio of outreach materials.Primary school children will learn about the diversity of animals that use vernal pools and conservation through songs and a hybrid coloring book and field guide. Middle school and high-school students will benefit from web-based videos. Lay people will benefit from easily accessible and engaging web-based outreach material such as social media and blogs…

Mining in Maine: Exploring Public Perception
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
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..

2015 Projects:

Toward a More Efficient UV Disinfection System
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…

Plankton N Cycling and Detection of Cyanobacterial Blooms in Lakes
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…

Groundwater and Hydrologic Variability in Maine Vernal Pools
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…

2014 Projects:

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…

Connecting Land Cover and Climate to Sebago Lake Drainage Network Processes
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…

Completed Projects:

2013 Maine Water Resources Research Institute Projects
2012 Maine Water Resources Research Institute Projects