It may be hard to believe today, but in the late 1980s, a report entitled “Troubled Waters” labeled Casco Bay as one of the most polluted estuaries in the nation. That report inspired a group of concerned citizens to form Friends of Casco Bay in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay.
When we were founded, pollution was widespread, but the truth was that no one had a handle on the environmental health of the Bay. So Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne, our first employee, launched our Water Quality Monitoring Program, enlisting volunteer Citizen Stewards to “take the pulse” of Casco Bay using proven scientific methods. Monitoring the water allows us to look at what’s beneath the beautiful view. Joe compares it to “getting a check-up from your doctor. If the usual diagnostic tests, like blood pressure and pulse, show an anomaly, then you do more testing to determine the cause.” We have collected data on many different aspects of water quality over the years; this report focuses on nitrogen, oxygen, water clarity, and pH, as well as other factors, to determine the relative health of our waters.
We are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Over the years, thanks in part to our work, industrial pollution in our coastal waters has decreased, municipalities have worked to reduce sewage pollution, and the Bay has been designated a No Discharge Area, making it one of the most protected water bodies from ship pollution in the country. Today, Casco Bay is ever present on Top Ten vacation and sailing lists. And Friends of Casco Bay is ever present on our waters, working to keep the view beautiful both above and below the surface.
Read the next section of the report It Takes a Community to Protect the Bay