Nabbing Nitrogen: Take a Day to Help our Bay

Posted on May 9, 2016

Lynn Callahan was new to Maine when she decided to sign up to volunteer for Friends of Casco Bay, taking water samples at a scenic lookout on Maquoit Bay in Brunswick. “I’d heard about all of the important work being done for Casco Bay and I wanted to help out. The water monitoring program sounded like fun. I loved learning how to collect all of the data and record it. I felt like I was making a difference.”

After a year, though, she found that sampling in the morning and afternoon was more of a time commitment than she could continue to make. “If I wanted to head down to Massachusetts to see family, I would have a really late start or not go at all. It is especially difficult when you work during the week and you look forward to free time on the weekends.”

But she reflects, “I miss feeling like I am making a difference in our quest for clean marine water.”

We are trying to prevent green algae outbreaks, such as this one in Mussel Cove, Falmouth.

We are trying to prevent green algae outbreaks,
such as this one in Mussel Cove, Falmouth.

Lynn is not alone. We hear from people who care about Casco Bay and want to do something to help. But not many of us can devote ten Saturdays to sampling the environmental health of the Bay, as our Citizen Steward Water Quality Monitors do.

We have a solution! Nabbing Nitrogen! You can be a Citizen Scientist for one day. Join us for the morning of Sunday, July 10th, to help us Nab Nitrogen. Sign up on our website at by May 27.

We need 100 volunteers to scoop up water samples from where the Fore River empties into Casco Bay. We have chosen sampling locations around the inner harbor, in both Portland and South Portland. Each volunteer is assigned to one particular site.

This is not a glamorous task. If you choose to volunteer (which we hope you will!), you could find yourself leaning out over a dock smeared with bird poop or navigating across a muddy or rocky shoreline.

We will let you know where to meet to pick up your instructions, sample bottle, data sheet, and map of your sample site. You will
return your sampling bottle and data sheet to the pick-up site as soon as possible, because the nitrogen samples need to be frozen within an hour of collection.

The analysis of the samples will be used to further our knowledge about levels of nitrogen, help the Maine Department of Environmental Protection collect valuable data to slow nitrogen pollution, and shine the public spotlight on an issue too few understand.

Why are we nabbing nitrogen?
Slime-covered mudflats, fish kills, brown foam, and the changing chemistry of Casco Bay all have been blamed on too much nitrogen. Rainwater can carry an overload of nitrogen from fertilizers, sewage discharges, and pet waste into our coastal waters.

Nab Nitrogen with us on Sunday, July 10th
Sign up today!
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