Home » Community Engagement: Many eyes are watching Casco Bay

Community Engagement: Many eyes are watching Casco Bay

Water Reporter is a simple-to-use app that enables observers to photograph, comment on, and share what they are seeing around the Bay, both good and bad. A year after Friends of Casco Bay launched our Water Reporter volunteer monitoring project, more than 193 volunteers have made more than 814 posts. Volunteers are tracking algal blooms, documenting sea level rise, photographic wildlife, and finding other innovative uses for the app.

Water Reporters chronicle King Tides, the highest tides of the year, which gives us a glimpse of the future. The photos can document current coastal flooding, such as submerged streets and eroding beaches. These images help us all visualize what the “new normal” high tides may look like as sea levels continue to rise.

Friends of Casco Bay volunteers have been keeping an eye on the health of the Bay for over a quarter-century, first as Citizens Steward Water Quality Monitors and now as Water Reporters. The Water Reporter smartphone app provides an easy way for volunteers to report on pollution incidents, nuisance and harmful algal blooms, and other issues that threaten the health of our waters.

Says Erin Hofmann, Data Science and Communications Lead for Chesapeake Commons, “Friends of Casco Bay is one of our most active groups in terms of active members, number of posts, and ongoing efforts.  Water Reporter has been around since 2014. Every winter, posts would slow to a trickle or stop altogether. I couldn’t believe how frequently posts kept rolling in from Maine this winter – bucking our long-held belief that people don’t engage in environmental efforts in the cold months. Leave it to the Mainers to get outside regardless of the weather to keep the observations flowing!”

Rick Frantz is one of those active Water Reporters. See what he has been observing in these articles in the Portland Press Herald and The Forecaster: