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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Water Quality Monitoring in the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers

Posted by | November 7, 2014 | Filed under: Observations

Since 2009, volunteers with the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance (MKRA) have been collecting measurements of river conditions in the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers. This effort is part of a statewide program begun by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2009 and was initiated based on a need for more data on in-stream conditions in Maine's rivers.  The Volunteer River Monitoring Program is modeled after the long standing Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, which engages community members in conducting science based conservation work to protect water quality in Maine lakes.


MKRA volunteers collect measurements throughout the summer months when river conditions can reach critical levels due to low flows, high temperatures, and greater inputs of pollutants from runoff.  From June through September volunteer teams visit 20 monitoring sites in the two rivers, collecting readings of dissolved oxygen, temperature, and conductivity, and taking water samples for analysis of bacteria levels.  The data is compiled in the fall and submitted to DEP, which then analyzes the readings and produces an annual report that summarizes the conditions in the rivers.

The volunteer data is being used to develop a picture of the baseline conditions in the two rivers to help track changes over time and identify any impairment issues that may warrant further investigation. After 5 years of collecting this information we are starting to see a mixed picture of both healthy and unhealthy river conditions. Many of the monitoring sites appear to be in good condition while others are showing recurring impairment issues.  This is good information to have as MKRA works within the two watersheds to raise awareness of what is going wrong as well as what is going right in the Mousam River and Kennebunk River.

For a quick look at what the monitoring data is telling us about water quality in the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers, check out this short summary produced by MKRA and the Wells Reserve: MKRA Water Quality Summary (PDF)

For a more in-depth look at the monitoring data, check out the DEP reports on their website:

The Volunteer River Monitoring Program is supported by Maine Rivers, York County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance, Maine DEP, Town of Kennebunk, Town of Alfred, Estes Lake Association, Sanford High School, IDEXX Laboratories Inc., Nelson Analytical Laboratory, the John Sage Foundation, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps, and by community members living in the Kennebunk River and Mousam River watersheds.

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