Stream Monitoring Begins
The Taunton Bay watershed network is connected to the bay by several streams reaching from south of Webb Pond in the west, and Donnell and Fox Ponds in the east. The fresh waters from the watershed bring nutrients to the bay, but may also bring bacteria, possible harmful chemicals, and pollutants that affect the water quality of the bay. Clean water in the streams and bay supports the many fisheries our area depends on: shellfish harvesting (clams, lobsters, and crabs), sea-run (diadromous) fish harvesting (elvers, alewives, and river herring), oyster aquaculture, and seaweed harvesting.
We are using three strategies to assess stream health. In early April after the snow melt we started monitoring four key streams, Egypt, (Grist) Mill, Card Mill Streams, and Springer Creek, to asses the same environmental and chemical indicators which we study in the bay. These include: temperature, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, pH (alkalinity); and laboratory analysis of +/-17 indicators of pollution (bacteria, nitrites and nitrates, heavy metals and others). We will repeat these measures following a major rain event and again after more than eight consecutive rain-free days.
We will also be using the Maine Stream Explorers program to measure overall stream health. We’ll use canvas bags to catch macroinvertebrates (water bugs) to see whether we find species that live in healthy streams, or only those that survive in unhealthy environments. Since the program was developed by Maine Audubon and Maine DEP to involve students and the public in stream health assessment, we reached out to local schools for help. A Friends of Taunton Bay member, Ellen Hall, connected us to a non-profit, Water for ME, the STEM program at Bangor High School, a biology class at Sumner Middle/ High School, and the University of Maine Space Program students and faculty. They participated in the April stream monitoring and tried out a new Splash Drone to take water samples.
The third focus is to test the levels of PFAS present in the streams, with help from the Shaw Institute of Blue Hill. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are human-made chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. These “forever chemicals” break down very slowly, persist in our bodies, and have been associated with health risks such as increased cholesterol levels, decreased vaccine response in children, changes in liver enzymes, increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, small decreases in infant birth weights, and increased risk of kidney cancer. They can be found in air, soil, and ground and surface water after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of products that contain these chemicals.
Send us a note in the Contact Us box to get involved with this work.