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Water Reporter

Please note: If you see an emergency along the Bay like a stranded or injured animal or person, please contact the appropriate authority. You can find a list of them here.

As an organization guided by science, we know the importance of careful observation. Identifying sources of pollution, tracking algal blooms, observing changing habitats, and recording wildlife sightings help us answer the questions: 

How healthy is Casco Bay? How is Casco Bay changing?

With 200 square miles of water and 578 miles of coastline, Casco Bay is large and our staff cannot be everywhere at once. That is why we rely on our community of Water Reporters to collect observational data, helping us to act as the eyes and ears of Casco Bay.

We all hold the responsibility to take care of the health of the Bay. One way you can help is by becoming a volunteer Water Reporter.

How it works

Volunteer Water Reporters use their smartphones to photograph algal blooms, coastal erosion, sea level rise, pollution, eelgrass, sightings of coastal and marine wildlife, and other changes they are seeing on and around Casco Bay. Photographs, latitude and longitude data, and observational notes are then shared with other Water Reporters and our staff through the Water Reporter app. 

Water Reporter is the name of our volunteer program and the smartphone app that we use to post our photos and observations. Water Reporters are the community members participating in the program.

Water Reporters’ documentation has helped to spur emergency responses to pollution and algal blooms, identify impaired streams flowing into the Bay, and document evidence of climate change. Over time, Water Reporters’ contributions are helping us amass a collection of visual data on the health of the Bay and how it may be changing.

If you care about Casco Bay and want to have a meaningful, positive impact on our efforts to advocate for solutions and protect the health of our coastal waters, please join us as a volunteer Water Reporter.

Join us – Sign up as a Water Reporter

Ways to participate

Our Water Reporter program was launched with versatility in mind, designed to adapt to the capabilities and schedules of our volunteers. In general, there are two ways that Water Reporters participate in the program: 

 

As you see it, on the fly

Many of the most powerful Water Reporter images are captured by volunteers who are simply in the right place at the right time. As Water Reporters are out and about around Casco Bay, they keep an eye out for evidence of rising seas, algal blooms, wildlife, and more. By taking a moment while walking on the beach or paddling in a kayak to snap a timely photo, our Water Reporters can have a big impact on improving the health of Casco Bay. 

 

Site-specific and high-frequency

Our most dedicated Water Reporters often commit to tracking a specific site on Casco Bay and posting at regular intervals. Keeping an eye on a unique location throughout the year helps us better understand how the Bay may be changing. This is also a great reason to spend more time on the Bay. Many Water Reporters share that regular participation has helped them to learn more about coastal ecology and build a deeper relationship with our marine waters.

Learn more:

Getting Started: sign up for Water Reporter

Water Reporter learning resources

Navigating the Water Reporter app (coming soon)

Map of Water Reporter posts

Locations to observe

Creating a post: a visual guide

Troubleshooting

How Water Reporters have made a difference

Always feel free to contact our Community Engagement Coordinator, Sarah Lyman, for questions you may have about Water Reporter: slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org, or text or call (207) 370-7553.

Thank you to the Water Reporter team! 

The Water Reporter app is owned and operated by The Commons, a nonprofit that provides software solutions to individuals and organizations seeking to improve water quality and the environment. We appreciate their work and support!

Water Reporter learning resources

There are many observations around the Bay we are interested in. We have created resources to help you learn about each. See them here.

Many of the resources help you record better observation about the areas we are most interested in. Our hashtags, can help you remember what those are.
Think WATERS!

  • #wildlife (Share the wildlife you see)
  • A   #algae (Report algae blooms)
  • T   #trash (Report marine trash)
  • E   #eelgrass (Share changes in eelgrass growth) and #erosion (Identify coastal erosion sites)
  • R   #reportpollution (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)
  • S   #sealevelrise (Revisit the same location to capture high tide impacts) and #saltmarsh (Share changes in areas of saltmarsh over the seasons and years)

You may use multiple hashtags.

What have Water Reporters been posting?

Click on the map of Water Reporter posts to see 100 of the most recent Water Reporter posts in the Casco Bay Watershed.

Locations to observe

We are interested in learning of any changes seen anywhere around the Bay. This map serves as a way a way to suggest some location ideas. Please don’t limit your observations to these locations.

Creating a post: a visual guide

Before you begin, make sure you have downloaded the app and have made an account. See how here.

Start with taking a photo with the camera application on your smartphone.

First open the camera app on your smartphone to quickly capture what you are seeing.

iPhone camera app
Android camera app

 

Next, open the Water Reporter app and click the pencil icon

Make sure you have downloaded the app and have made a profile before you begin. See how here.

To start, open the Water Reporter App on your phone.

From any screen, tap the blue circle icon with the “pencil” symbol at the bottom of the screen. It will bring you to the “Start Post” page.

Note: If you see the upgrade option, as shown here, just ignore it. We have the professional account features. You don’t need them to share your observations.

Overview

There are five steps to creating a post on Water Reporter. This guide will walk through them step by step.

1. Find your location

Every post must have a location.

Your best option here is to grant access to the Water Reporter app to your location services. When this action is turned on, Water Reporter will find your location automatically.

If you are posting away from the original location, you can type in a location.  The location pin will drop to that address. Then you can move the pin manually to adjust.

2. Describe your photo and observations. Use hashtags to organize the post. 

Describe what you see and add any hashtags that are relevant to your observation. Hashtags help us by grouping and categorizing posts. Once you’ve completed your comment, tap on the blue save button in the upper right-hand corner. 

Include our suggested hashtags, as they apply to your post.
Think WATERS!

  • W  #wildlife (Share the wildlife you see)
  • A   #algae (Report algae blooms)
  • T   #trash (Report marine trash)
  • E   #erosion (Identify coastal erosion sites), #eelgrass (share where you see healthy eelgrass beds or washed up eelgrass)
  • R   #reportpollution (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)
  • S   #sealevelrise (Revisit the same location to capture high tide impacts)

You may use multiple hashtags.

3. Add an Image

Take a picture through the app or select an existing photo on your phone.

Click on the camera icon, then select “Take a picture” and take a new photo.

Alternatively, you can choose “Select a saved photo” and choose a photo from your Photo Library, if you already took the image through your device’s camera app. This can be a better option for areas with poor data coverage. It ensures you don’t lose the image.

4. Share with us to make sure we are notified of your post and it displays on our map.

Tap the small green circle next to “Friends of Casco Bay”.

You will know you clicked the circle because it will fill in.

Troubleshooting: Sometimes the tagging a group feature does not work. If this happens to you, skip this step and continue to post your photo. Once it is posted, you can edit your post and share it with the Friends of Casco Bay group. You can see how to do that in the Troubleshooting section below.

5. Review and submit your post

Review your post to ensure it is complete and accurate.

Click the checkmark in the upper right-hand corner to complete and save your post.

You will be taken to your profile page, and if you have good data service, you will immediately see the post. If you do not see it, tap the globe icon, and see if it is there. Be patient, especially when you do not have good cell phone data coverage. 

Still not seeing it? Contact us at volunteer [at] cascobay [dot] org.

Note: All times recorded on the map are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

How to use a computer to post to Water Reporter, instead of the phone app

  1. Open the Water Reporter Website: https://www.waterreporter.org/
  2. Choose “Sign In” in the upper righthand corner.
  3. Log in with your Water Reporter account.
  4. Click the blue “Share a Post” button located in the upper right corner of the page.
  5. Type a description of your post into the text box that says, “Go ahead, say a few words.” Include the date and time your photo was taken. Describe what you see. Then add any hashtags that are relevant to your observation. Hashtags help us by grouping and categorizing posts. Hashtags are the “#” followed by a word or phrase without spaces.
    Think WATERS to see our most used hastags! 

W  #wildlife (Share the wildlife you see)

A   #algae (Report algae blooms)

T   #trash (Report marine trash)

E   #erosion (Identify coastal erosion sites) #eelgrass (Report sightings of eelgrass)

R   #reportpollution (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)

S   #sealevelrise (Revisit the same location to capture high tide impacts)

 You may use multiple hashtags.

  • Enter your photo’s original location under the heading “Where does this post belong?”  Use the “Type in an address…” box to specify your site, or insert your location’s coordinates in the longitude and latitude boxes. Please note: right now the map function is not working on this part of Water Reporter, so you will not see the location.
  • Upload an image. Click “Browse…” to view photos that you have saved on your computer.  Choose the image you want to share.
  • Share with us to make sure we are notified of your post and it displays on our map.
    Under the heading “Share this post with your groups,” click the small square located on the upper right of the Friends of Casco Bay logo. You will know you clicked it because a small check mark will appear in the square.
  • Review and submit your post
    Review your post to ensure it is complete and accurate.
    Once you have completed these steps, click the green “Share” button at the bottom of the page.

 

Congratulations! You have shared your observations with us on Water Reporter! If you’d like to confirm it worked, you can click on your profile image, likely your face or a water drop in the right righthand corner, and confirm you see your post.

Troubleshooting

One part of the app isn’t working, such as the location or sharing with the group:

  • That’s okay! Skip the step that isn’t working and continue with the rest of the steps.
  • Post your image
  • Later follow the step below to edit your post and correct the things that were not working.

If you need to delete your post, on your phone:

  1. Once you’ve opened Water Reporter, tap on the rightmost icon, the house, on the bottom bar to navigate to your profile.
  2. Tap the icon in the upper left, three stacked lines.
  3. Click View profile.
  4. Scroll past your bio to find the post you need to edit.
  5. Click on the three horizontal dots at the bottom right of your post.
  6. Click “Delete post”.

You can follow these steps to edit your post and add forgotten hashtags:

  1. Once you’ve opened Water Reporter, tap on the rightmost icon, the house, on the bottom bar to navigate to your profile.
  2. Tap the icon in the upper left, three stacked lines.
  3. Click View profile.
  4. Scroll past your bio to find the post you need to edit.
  5. Click on the three horizontal dots at the bottom right of your post.
  6. Click “Edit post”.
  7. Make the changes
  8. Click the checkmark in the upper right-hand corner

Unable to post your photo while outside?

iPhone users: start with turning off live photos. See how on this page. Then you can try again. For others, or if that still does not work:

  • Take the photo on your phone’s camera (outside of the app).
  • Make sure to note the location and time when you take the photo.
  • Back at home, bring Water Reporter up on your phone or sign in on your computer (computer link: https://www.waterreporter.org/community/user/login).
  • Upload your photo on Water Reporter and go through the same posting steps above, making sure that your location pin is where you took the photo and not your current location if you are posting from home, work, etc.
  • In the caption of the photo, before any description or hashtags, write the date and time of when the photo was taken.
  • Share your post with Friends of Casco Bay and save it.

How to edit your profile:

  1. Once you’ve opened Water Reporter, tap on the rightmost icon, the house, on the bottom bar to navigate to your profile.
  2. Tap the icon in the upper left, three stacked lines.
  3. Click “Edit profile”.
  4. Make your edits.
  5. Click the checkmark in the upper right once you are done editing.

What is the Presumpscot Watershed?

The Presumpscot Watershed is the name of the Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) assigned to the entire Casco Bay area by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). While we know that many communities around Casco Bay are in actuality beyond the Presumpscot River system, we are not able to change the name of this region in the app because of the way USGS has coded the watershed. All posts located in the Casco Bay watershed will be grouped as being in the Presumpscot Watershed.

How Water Reporters have made a difference

Friends’ Volunteers Document Eelgrass Mystery

November 12, 2021

  Water Reporters up and down Casco Bay have been documenting an increase of torn and uprooted eelgrass washing ashore from mid-August through September. Falmouth Town Landing, Broad Cove, Wolfe’s Neck, and Maquoit Bay are among the locations where Water Reporters have encountered piles of this ecologically vital, ribbon-like seagrass. Eelgrass… Read more

What did we see on the Bay this summer?

November 3, 2021

Last week over 165 Friends of the Bay joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Staff Scientist Mike Doan online at our latest Casco Bay Matters Event: What Casco Bay Is Telling Us. Here is a recording of the event for those of you who were unable to attend or would like to revisit the… Read more

Looking back and looking ahead: leadership at Friends

September 21, 2021

Dear Friends, It has already been three weeks since we gathered with 200 Friends of the Bay to celebrate the career, contributions, and retirement of our longtime Executive Director, Cathy Ramdsell. Cathy’s send-off party, held outdoors at Portland Yacht Services’ boatyard, marked our first in-person event since the onset of… Read more

Leave No Trace on Casco Bay

September 9, 2021

Imagine stepping out of a boat onto a Casco Bay island. What would you hear and see? Perhaps the rhythm of crashing waves, wild roses rustling in the breeze, or a gull crying as it circles overhead. But would you ever imagine the sight of  food wrappers, derelict fishing gear,… Read more

Water Reporter Post of the Month: Linda Stimpson

September 7, 2021

Horseshoe crabs: ancient animals in Casco Bay Linda Stimpson has lived in Maine for much of her adult life, but it wasn’t until recently that she first spotted this prehistoric creature – with nine eyes and ten legs – scuttling along the shore of Casco Bay. In her Water Reporter… Read more

Water Reporter Post of the Month: Susan Woodman

August 4, 2021

Eyes on the intertidal: Willard Beach algal blooms After spending her career working and living in Augusta, Susan Woodman knew exactly where she wanted to be when she retired: near the water. As an avid sea kayaker, access to the coast where she could launch her kayak was a top… Read more