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Our Work

It is a privilege to live, work, and play on Casco Bay. With that privilege, comes great responsibility. We remind our members, supporters, and community that the Bay belongs to all of us, and its stewardship is the responsibility of all. Our work compels people to factor in the health of Casco Bay in actions and decisions that affect our coastal waters.

How do we improve and protect the health of the Bay? On several fronts:

Science

first time testing for micro plastics in Casco Bay

Friends of Casco Bay is science-based. Through monitoring, assessing, observing, and measuring, we are working to answer the questions:

  • What is the current health of the Bay?
  • Is it changing?
  • What may be influencing changes?

Our observations and data are the foundation of much of our community engagement and advocacy efforts. Our Water Quality Monitoring Program collects scientific data to keep an eye on the health of the Bay and to track trends.

Our monitoring program has four components:

  • Continuous Monitoring Station: A carbon dioxide sensor and a data sonde—an electronic device that records temperature, pH, and other characteristics of water quality—collect data hourly, to provide evidence of how our coastal waters are changing over time.
  • Seasonal Sampling Across Casco Bay: Using our Baykeeper boat and truck, our staff scientists continue to add to our important long-term data set by collecting data at the surface or from the surface to the sea floor at 22 locations every three weeks from May through October. Through this effort we:
    • Monitor by land—synoptic surface sampling: We collect data on temperature, salinity, water clarity, pH, and oxygen in surface water at several shoreside sites, where 25 years of data have told us represent both healthy and challenged regions of the Bay.
    • Monitor by boat—profile sampling: We collect data through the length of the water column, from surface to sea floor, aboard our research vessel at nine stations across the Bay.
  • Volunteer efforts: In our Water Reporter effort, volunteer’s observations provide a better understanding of conditions in Casco Bay. Through Color by Numbers, volunteers photograph and measure the color of Casco Bay, an indicator of its health.

You can read more about our science work.

Baykeeping

Friends of Casco Bay Baykeeper Boat Portland Headlight

Our Baykeeping Program exists to advocate for solutions to environmental challenges facing Casco Bay. In short, Baykeeping is about reducing pollution in our waters. We work with diverse partners to find reasonable solutions to threats to our coastal waters in order to make lasting, permanent, and positive changes in the health of the Bay. Our advocacy seeks to persuade local and state governments and regulators to set standards that protect the environment. We comment on proposed wastewater discharge permits, serve on advisory committees to help draft local ordinances, point out the lack of enforcement of existing laws, and work to block bad bills and to pass protective laws at the state level. Baykeeping involves stormwater,  acidification and climate change, advocacy, dredging, and oil spill preparedness. To read more about our Baykeeping efforts, go here.

Community Engagement

Storm Drain Stenciling

It takes a community to protect Casco Bay. We educate residents and regulators to understand the threats and provide information on how we all can work to change practices and policies in order to improve and protect the Bay. We send out calls to action to our supporters about pending issues that affect Casco Bay. Their response is often crucial in changing votes by legislators.

Friends of Casco Bay’s most valuable asset is a committed corps of volunteers. Our neighbors help us tackle issues and projects in ways that significantly enhance the work of our small staff. Volunteers help collect scientific data, champion our causes at community events, stencil clean water messages on storm drains, pick up trash from beaches and salt marshes, and explain to friends and neighbors about we all can protect the Bay. To read more about our Community Engagement work, click here. To volunteer, fill out this application. To receive our action alerts, sign up here.

Friends of Casco Bay’s data has helped

  • raise Clean Water Act water classification—and protections—in areas of Casco Bay.
  • support our recommendations for wastewater discharge permits to reduce pollution from sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities.
  • report to Congress on the health of our coastal waters as part of the state’s requirements under the Clean Water Act.
  • provide baseline data for other researchers and for collaborative reports to help shape goals and projects to improve the health of the Bay.
  • create and update our Casco Bay Health Index, available at http://cascobay.github.io/cascobay/

Cover photo: Photograph by Kevin Morris

Support our work to keep Casco Bay blue