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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.

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.

Map of Water Reporter Observations

In order to be a Water Reporter volunteer:

  • You will need a smartphone (iPhone or Android) or a tablet (iPad or Android tablet).

  • Create an account on the Water Reporter app and join the Friends of Casco Bay group.

  • Be willing to take photos of the Bay and share them on the app along with their location.

    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 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.

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 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.

Troubleshooting: Sometime 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.

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

  • #algae (Report algae blooms)
  • #trash (Report marine trash)
  • #erosion (Identify coastal erosion sites)
  • #pollutionreport (Report pollution: sheen, foam, discolored discharges)
  • #wildlife (Share the wildlife you see)

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

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).


If you made a mistake in your post:

  1. Click on the three horizontal dots at the top of your post to the right of your name.
  2. Click “Edit post” and make any changes.
  3. Click “Save” once you are done editing.

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.

Unable to post your photo while outside?:

  • 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.

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.