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 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!
E #erosion or #eelgrass
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!
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:
- See Water Reporter Posts on a Map
- Sign up as a Water Reporter, before making your first post.
- See a visual guide to creating a post
- Learn about two specific ways to use Water Reporter: nuisance algal bloom tracking and capturing sea level rise.
- See the troubleshooting section.
- Watch videos we created to help you be a better Water Reporter.
- Need help or can’t find what you are looking for? Contact Sarah Lyman via email: slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org, or text or call at (207) 370-7553.
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:
- 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.
If you have any problems throughout this process, please do not hesitate to contact us. Call or text Sarah Lyman at (207) 370-7553 or email volunteer [at] cascobay [dot] org.
How to post to Water Reporter
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.
There are five steps to creating a post on Water Reporter. This guide will walk through them step by step.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Tap the small green circle next to “Friends of Casco Bay”.
You will know you clicked the circle because it will fill in.
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).
Become 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.
- Volunteer Water Reporters are taking photos during astronomical high tides and using the #sealevelrise hashtag. Such high tides can help us spot areas that are vulnerable to rising seas. We are using these observations as we work with local, regional, and state officials to adapt and address climate change.
- 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.
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.
- Search method: In the App Store (iPhone) or Play Store (Android), search for “The Water Reporter” and find the app with the logo shown here.
- Link method:
- iPhone: On your phone, use your browser (e.g. Safari, Chrome) to go to (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-water-reporter/id668005311https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-water-reporter/id668005311?mt=8) A new window will open asking “Open in the app store?” Click yes. Click “Get” to download the app.
- Android: On your phone, use your browser (e.g. Chrome) to go to (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.viableindustries.waterreporter&hl=en_US). Click Install.
Once the app is installed, open it.
Step 2: Sign up to create your account
See the screenshots of these steps below.
2.1 Enter your first name, last name, email address, and a password and click “Sign Up for Water Reporter”.
2.2 Join the Friends of Casco Bay group by typing “Friends of Casco Bay” in the search bar. Then tap the green circle. The circle will fill, indicating that you have joined our group.
Click the checkmark in the upper right after you have selected our group.
NOTE: You can leave groups at any time from your profile page and the group’s feed. You can join more groups by searching for their feed and selecting ‘follow’.
2.3 On the next screen you can choose specific people to follow. When you follow people, their posts will appear in your global feed, a stream of posts that is relevant to you. Since you’ll see posts from our group, you can also skip this step by tapping the instruction to do so. Tap the checkmark in the upper right to save your settings.
2.4 Set up your profile and notifications: Tap the menu icon, a stack of three lines, in the upper left-hand corner. Select Edit Profile.
Complete your Profile
Add a simple bio. Consider identifying yourself as a Friends of Casco Bay volunteer and sharing how you enjoy Casco Bay. Then, change your profile photo. We encourage you to personalize your account so that we all can fully embrace the community aspect of Water Reporter.
Water Reporter will send you notifications whenever someone likes or comment on your posts.
Tap the checkmark in the upper right to save your settings.
Congrats, on setting up your account. There is just one more step before making a test post.
Step 3: 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.
You are ready to create your first post. See how here.
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.
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