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Water Reporter Guide

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.

Want to get outside, take photos that may help protect the health of Casco Bay, and connect with other community members? We invite you to join our new volunteer Observing Network, Water Reporter, an exciting way to share what you see around the Bay.

Your observations combined with others’ will provide a better understanding of conditions in Casco Bay. You can help protect our waters by looking out for nuisance algal blooms and other potential problems, while appreciating the beauty of the Bay and its diverse plant and animal life.

For this project we are asking you to take photos of the Bay to document algal bloom events, water pollution and trash, shoreline erosion, and marine wildlife sightings. Through the Water Reporter app, your photos will be shared with Friends of Casco Bay, as well as with other observers. You will be able to see and comment on others’ posts and get an idea of what is going on around the Bay.

Having trouble remembering the types of posts we are looking for and the hashtags to use? Think WATERS!

W  #wildlife
A   #algae
T   #trash
E   #erosion
R   #reportpollution
S   #sealevelrise

Each submission is displayed on a map and posted to individual, organization, and watershed feeds. To keep you in the loop, you will receive email notifications every time someone comments or takes action on your report.

Thank you to the Water Reporter team!

Water Reporter App

The Water Reporter app is operated by Chesapeake Commons, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide powerful software to those working to improve water quality and the environment. They are continually working to roll out additional features that bolster your work as Water Reporter Volunteers with us. We appreciate their work and support!

Find what you are looking for

There is a lot on this page! Use the links below to jump to one of the most popular sections of this guide:

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.

In order to be a Water Reporter volunteer:

What you need to know:

  • Each photo you submit will provide a better understanding of conditions in the Bay.
  • Friends of Casco Bay is especially interested in tracking algal blooms as they occur, so if you come across one, be sure to share a photo along with the hashtag #algae.
  • For other reports please use hashtags like #trash #erosion #pollutionreport or #wildlife in the photo caption to improve search and categorization of your report for the community and Friends of Casco Bay.

This guide walks you through creating an account on the Water Reporter app and posting a photo. If you’d like a one page, printable overview of this guide, you can download this document.

If you have any problems throughout this process, please do not hesitate to contact us. During office hours, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., call us at (207) 799-8574. Outside office hours, call or text Sarah Lyman at (207) 370-7553.

How to post to Water Reporter on iPhone

Open the Water Reporter App and click +

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 iPhone.

Water Reporter App

Click on the center icon with the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen which will bring you to the “Start Post” page shown in the next section.

Overview

 

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

Step 1: Take a photo

Click on the camera icon and take a new photo.

Alternatively, you can choose a photo in your Photo Library, if you already took the image through your device’s camera app.

Step 2: Describe your photo. Use hashtags to organize the post.

Describe your photo in the comment field, the big gray box.

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)
  • R   #reportpollution (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)
  • S   #sealevelrise (Revisit the same location to capture high tide impacts)

You may use multiple hashtags.

For more information on using hashtags visit: https://help.waterreporter.org/getting-started-for-basic-users/sharing-reports/add-hashtags-to-report-comments

Step 3: Confirm your location to make sure it is accurate.

Confirm your location by clicking on the location pin, allow Water Reporter to access your location while using the app, and make sure the red dot is in the correct spot on the map (where the photo was taken) and click “Set”.

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

Share your post with Friends of Casco Bay.

Click on the icon with the two figures. Then click on the Friends of Casco Bay logo. You will know you clicked the logo because a small green circle will appear next to it.

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.

Step 5: Complete your post.

Double check:

  • the Friends of Casco Bay logo is on your post and there is a small green dot next to it. This indicates that we will be notified of your post and it will show up on the map of posts.
  • there is a green dot next to the location pin. This indicates that you have confirmed your location.

Click “Save” to post your photo.

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

How to post to Water Reporter on Android

Open the Water Reporter App and click +

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

Water Reporter App

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

Click on the center icon with the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen which will bring you to the “Create Post” page shown in the next section.

Overview

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

Step 1: Take a photo

Click on the camera icon and “Take a Photo”.

Alternatively, you can choose a photo in your photo library, if you already took the image through your device’s camera app.

Step 2: Describe your photo. Use hashtags to organize the post.

Describe your photo in the comment field.

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)
  • R   #reportpollution (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)
  • S   #sealevelrise (Revisit the same location to capture high tide impacts)

You may use multiple hashtags.

For more information on using hashtags visit: https://help.waterreporter.org/getting-started-for-basic-users/sharing-reports/add-hashtags-to-report-comments

Step 3: Confirm your location to make sure it is accurate.

Confirm your location by clicking on the location pin, allow Water Reporter to access your location while using the app, and make sure the blue dot is in the correct spot on the map (where the photo was taken). Move the map as need to change it. Click the check mark.

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

Share your post with Friends of Casco Bay.

Under “Share with your groups” click on the toggle next to Friends of Casco Bay, when the toggle is teal it means it will be shared.

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.

Step 5: Complete your post.

Once you have completed all the steps above, click the send button to post your photo.

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

Special Water Reporter Posting Types

Help us track how sea levels are rising around the Bay

Community members have observed the rise in sea level over the years. Coastal communities are experiencing greater storm surges and King Tides (astronomically high tides that occur a few times year). Maine geologists are planning for a three-foot sea level rise along the Maine coast over the next 100 years. The predicted impacts include beach erosion; landslides; loss of wildlife habitats; and drowned infrastructure, causing more sewage overflows, flooded streets, broken pipes, and costly repairs.

Now we need your help to capture these changes. Follow these steps to take a sea level rise photo:

  1. Find a good location: beaches, coastal parks, and public access sites along Casco Bay are perfect locations, for example, Back Cove or East End Beach in Portland, Fort William Park in Cape Elizabeth, Willard Beach, Bug Light, and Spring Point Light Parks in South Portland, Mackworth Island in Falmouth, Wolf Neck State Park in Freeport, Graveyard Point Town Landing in Harpswell, any of the islands in Casco Bay, and many many more places.  Make sure you can stay safe!
  2. Plan your arrival time so that you have enough time to get to your location and take a photo, or series of photos. The ideal time to take these photos is half an hour before or after high tide. High tides can be found here: https://me.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Maine-Southern%20Coast
  3. Stand at least two strides up from the water line. Take the photo looking down the shoreline. Include some sort of structure or landmark in your picture, such as a pier, jetty, breakwater, building, or dock, for perspective. This will help you and others take images from the same location and angle in the future.

The Northeast Outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s seasonal high tide flooding bulletins show when our area may experience higher than normal high tides. Bulletins are updated quarterly and can be found here: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/high-tide-bulletin/

Help us track Nuisance Algal Blooms around the Bay

Follow these steps to take part:

  1. Choose a specific location to observe weekly. You can choose one from our suggested sites on the map below or select your own.
  2. Plan your arrival time so that you have enough time to get to your location and take a photo, or series of photos. The ideal time to take these photos is between an hour before and after low tide. Low tides can be found here: https://me.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Maine-Southern%20Coast or on a tide app.
  3. Take your picture! Try to use a landmark to stand next to in order to make your picture as replicable as possible from week to week.
  4. Get close! In addition to your ‘big picture’ photo, try to get some close-up photos to help us get a better sense of the type of growth. Ensure you stay safe.
  5. Caption the photo with the name of your site, the weather, and if there was significant rainfall in the past week. Add an estimate of the percentage of the cove covered by algae. Make sure to use #algae!
  6. Make sure to use the location pin to mark your location and share your post with the Friends of Casco Bay group.
  7. Go back every week – it does not have to be on the same day – to help the Friends of Casco Bay learn more about algal blooms and the health of our Bay!

Here are photos of different algal blooms around the Bay.

This map shows locations that we are concerned about potential nuisance algal blooms

What’s the big deal with green algae?

In the marine environment, nitrogen jumpstarts the growth of algae and phytoplankton, tiny plants that form the base of the ocean food chain, which in turn nurture zooplankton, clams, oysters, crabs, lobsters, fish, and whales. But too much nitrogen may trigger large blooms of nuisance algae or “green slime,” which can reduce water clarity and lower oxygen levels, making life harder for marine organisms. These nuisance algal blooms may be triggered by excess nitrogen from fertilizers, sewage, pet wastes, and emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks. For more information on excess nitrogen and green algae visit https://www.cascobay.org/our- work/science/nuisance-algal- bloom-tracking/.

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 edit your post:

  1. Once you’ve opened Water Reporter, click on the leftmost icon on the bottom bar to navigate to your profile.
  2. Find the post you need to edit.
  3. Click on the three horizontal dots at the top of your post to the right of your name.
  4. Click “Edit post” and make any changes.
  5. Click “Save” once you are done editing.

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.

  • 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. Click on the leftmost icon on the bottom bar to navigate to your profile.
  2. At your profile page click on the gear icon in the top right corner.
  3. Click “Edit Profile” and then make your edits.
  4. Hit “Done” when you are finished editing and then hit “Done” again to exit out of the Settings menu.

Become a Water Reporter volunteer:

Step 1: Download the Water Reporter app on your smartphone

There are two ways to download the Water Reporter app, either search your phone’s app store or use the links provided here.

Once the app is installed, open it.

Step 2: Sign up to create your account

2.1 Enter your email address and a password and click “Sign Up”.

2.2 Enter your name and other information you want to share (this can be edited later) then click “Next”.

2.3 Join the Friends of Casco Bay group by clicking the group icon (shown to the right) and then typing “Friends of Casco Bay” in the search bar and clicking the green “Join” button to the right. Then click “Done”.

2.4 A greeting message will pop up. Click “Get started” which will take you to your feed showing the latest activity from other users. For more information about interacting with your activity feed visit the Water Reporter help site: https://help.waterreporter.org/getting-started-for-basic-users/activity-feed-explore-the-community

Tip Before you make a post, make sure your Location Services are turned on outside of the Water Reporter app.

  • iPhone: Go into Settings, click on “Privacy” and then “Location Services” make sure the toggle is green.
  • Android: Open your device’s Settings app.
    Tap Security & Location and then Location. (If you don’t see “Security & Location,” tap Location.)
    Turn Location on.

Step 3: Post your first photo

3.1 Click on the center icon with the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen which will bring you to the “Create Post” page.

3.2 Click on the camera icon and either choose a photo in your Photo Library or take a new photo.

3.3 Confirm your location by clicking on the location pin, allow Water Reporter to access your location while using the app, and make sure the red dot is in the correct spot on the map (where the photo was taken) and click “Set”.

3.4 Share your post with Friends of Casco Bay.

  • iPhone: Click on the icon with the two figures and then also click on the Friends of Casco Bay logo. You will know you clicked the logo because a small green circle will appear next to it.
  • Android: Under “Share with your groups” click on the toggle next to Friends of Casco Bay, when the toggle is green it means it will be shared.

3.5 Describe more about your photo in the comment field, including our suggested hashtags (you may use multiple hashtags):
Think WATERS!

3.6 Click “Save” (iPhone) or the send button (Android) to post your photo.

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

Learn more about Water Reporter and the impact of your reports:

Many eyes keep watch on Casco Bay

October 9, 2019

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca is our watchdog on the health of the Bay. She is on or along the water as much as possible, even in her spare time. But she can’t be everywhere. Ivy says, “We rely upon our volunteers to be our extra eyes on the Bay. Increasingly,… Read more

And how is your summer going?

July 23, 2019

Summer is going swimmingly here at Friends of Casco Bay, and we have a lot of good news to share: Our priority legislative bill to create a state-level Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Council was incorporated nearly word-for-word into the Governor’s comprehensive Climate Change Council bill. An Act to Promote… Read more

Our growing observing network on Casco Bay

July 11, 2019

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… Read more

Water Reporter App

Water Reporters: you are a growing observing network on Casco Bay

July 10, 2019

Water Reporters, this is your reference for using the Water Reporter app. It summarizes the topics covered at the Water Reporter training event held in June 2019. We are so pleased to see how volunteers like you are having an impact by being Water Reporters. Types of Water Reporter Posts… Read more

It Takes a Village

May 20, 2019

Rick Frantz keeps an eye on Casco Bay as he commutes between his home on Great Diamond Island and Andy’s Old Port Pub, the restaurant that he and his wife Jennifer Fox own on the Portland waterfront. When he sees something out of the ordinary, good or bad, he takes… Read more

King Tides help us see what sea level rise might look like

February 15, 2019

Did you see the Armed with smartphones, volunteers track Casco Bay king tides as harbingers of sea-level rise article in the Portland Press Herald that covered this effort? You can learn more about our Water Reporter effort and join here. A King Tide is an astronomically high tide. A King Tide… Read more

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.