Yesterday was the first anniversary of our launching Friends of Casco Bay’s Water Reporter effort. To date, 162 volunteers have made more than 500 posts. We call that a great start!
A standing-room only crowd of 37 Friends of the Bay gathered in South Portland on June 24th for an informal training on the app. Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman, volunteer Rick Frantz, and summer intern Alexis Burns guided newbies and veterans through the steps to post and comment on what they are seeing on the water.
Sarah explained that using hashtags to identify the type of incident helps organize reports. “If you are having trouble remembering the types of posts we are looking for and the hashtags to use, think WATERS!”
Although many of the posts expose concerning events happening on the water, Sarah reminded the group that we all care deeply about Casco Bay, so we also should share images that represent the reasons we love living near the Bay. You can see all of the Casco Bay related posts on Water Reporter here.
Great questions from the volunteers showed that they already had a good grasp of the Water Reporter app. After Sarah answered questions, she referred people to our website to reinforce her explanations. We recently updated our guide, www.cascobay.org/water-reporter, to include detailed instructions for posting on iPhone or Android device and troubleshooting tips.
After the training, Trish Peterson posted, “The water reporting training we recently received was confidence building for sure. Water reporting is not only interesting, but fun!”
Our summer intern Alexis Burns explained that she is monitoring nusiance algal blooms at three locations in South Portland on a weekly basis: Mill Cove behind Hannaford Supermarket, Pleasantdale Cove off Broadway, and behind Forest Lawn Cemetery on Lincoln Street.
Several people offered to help track nuisance algal blooms at specific locations around the Bay.
Sarah explained that we are connected to a worldwide network through our engagement with the Water Reporter app, developed by a group called Chesapeake Commons. Erin Hofmann, their Data Science and Communications Lead, told us, “Friends of Casco Bay is one our most active groups in terms of members, number of posts, and endurance of ongoing efforts. Some groups get their volunteers to share reports on one issue or event, and then fade away – but the Friends of Casco Bay team has found some really great ways to train volunteers and then keep them active and engaged on the app.”
The map showing the many locations around the Bay where our volunteers have posted images speaks for itself! Kudos to our Casco Bay Water Reporters!