Over the last several years, FBE has contracted with the City of Bangor on a growing number of projects related to stream restoration and watershed management. FBE was hired in 2015 to jump-start a long-term monitoring program for Bangor by deploying city-owned Onset HOBO® loggers for water level, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, and water temperature in four urban impaired streams. Water level loggers were deployed in FBE-designed stilling wells secured to staff gauges for consistent water level readings. This monitoring was expanded to include two additional impaired streams in 2016.
FBE staff also take annual stormflow measurements to establish a robust stage-discharge rating curve at each site. This enables us to convert water level to flow and track changes in flow over time at each of the streams. Changes in flow could occur due to restoration efforts or climate change. FBE has also assisted the City with revising existing or writing new watershed management plans for Capehart Brook, Birch Stream, Penjajawoc Stream, and Arctic Brook. FBE ensured that all plans met EPA’s nine elements for EPA/DEP approval. Work on these streams included retrofit surveys, stream corridor assessments, and water quality analyses. In 2014, FBE also conducted a stream corridor and watershed survey report for Sucker Brook.
FBE began conducting annual lake monitoring at Watchic Lake in 2016. Annual monitoring includes four sampling events (June, July, August, and September) at the deep spot of Watchic Lake. FBE staff is certified by Maine VLMP for dissolved oxygen, Secchi, and phosphorus/epilimnetic core monitoring. FBE assists the Watchic Lake Association (WLA) with quality assurance and control (QA/QC) of all lake monitoring data, and assures the data are properly formatted for review and inclusion in the Maine DEP database. With the help of WLA, FBE designed and deployed a buoy system at the deep spot that continuously monitors dissolved oxygen and temperature at three set depths: 2 m, 5 m, and 11 m below the water surface. These depths equate to critical layers in the water column, which becomes thermally stratified during the peak summer season: epilimnion (warm, surface layer), thermocline or metalimnion (markedly cooler, more dynamic middle layer), and hypolimnion (cold, bottom layer). With these loggers, WLA will be able to track detailed information regarding dissolved oxygen and water temperature throughout the season, allowing us to track the onset of thermal stratification, pinpoint spring and fall turnover, and determine the extent and duration of anoxia (zero oxygen conditions) at the bottom.
Located in the New Hampshire Seacoast, Parsons Creek is listed as impaired by the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) for primary contact recreation (bacteria), fish consumption (mercury and PCBs), and shellfishing (bacteria, dioxin, mercury, and PCBs). Since 2008, FBE has worked with the Town of Rye to identify potential “hotspots” of bacteria in Parsons Creek and along the public beach. This resulted in the development of a NHDES-approved watershed-based plan for the Parsons Creek watershed. High bacteria concentrations and dense algal mats were found near the outlet of Parsons Creek on Wallis Beach. The beach between the outlet to Parsons Creek and Wallis Sands State Park is a very popular destination for local residents and tourists, and there are many homes located along this stretch of beach that rely on private septic systems. Canines detected human-derived sources of bacteria at this location, which may indicate malfunctioning septic systems. FBE conducted weekly monitoring of beach seeps in 2014 and 2015 to determine if bacteria counts were safe for human contact; beach seep sampling conducted over 24-hours showed temporal hotspots in bacteria loading to the beach, likely reflecting changes in human activity throughout the day and night. FBE also assists the town with NHDES 319-funded remediation work, including the development of a septic system database, installation of multiple stormwater BMPs, and implementation of a public outreach program for residents and municipal staff. FBE recently assisted the town with the development of a septic system maintenance ordinance for properties within the Parsons Creek watershed.
In collaboration with the Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMCG), FBE developed a 10-Year Water Quality Report for the Ossipee Lake and River watershed, located in the New Hampshire towns of Effingham, Freedom, Madison, Ossipee, Sandwich, Tamworth, and Eaton. The report provides water quality information, analyses, and recommendations based on data collected from 2002 to 2011 through the GMCG Regional Interstate Volunteers for the Ecosystems and Rivers of Saco (RIVERS) Watershed Monitoring Program and the GMCG Ossipee Lake and Tributaries (OLT) Program. These volunteers have regularly collected water quality information from 30 river sites and five lake stations within the watershed. Analyses showed that water quality in the Ossipee watershed is very good overall, but some river sites have emerging problems for a number of water quality parameters. Although some sites show deteriorating trends in some water quality parameters, many of the parameters measured still meet state water quality standards. This presents a unique opportunity for engaged stakeholders, such as GMCG and watershed towns, to utilize restoration techniques that can stabilize or reverse these deteriorating trends in water quality. For the full report, please visit the GMCG website.
Several waterbodies and beaches in Salem, NH have been identified by the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) as impaired for various parameters. These impairments include high levels of bacteria from unidentified sources, likely attributed to nonpoint source pollution in stormwater runoff from the watershed. Since 2014, the Town of Salem has contracted FBE to conduct investigations around several of its waterbodies, with a focus on Captain and Millville Ponds. Previous investigations included a 2014 survey by Environmental Canine Services (ECS) to detect possible human wastewater contamination and a 2015 follow-up investigation of stormwater outfalls around Captain Pond and Millville Pond. Based on results from 2014 and 2015, continued monitoring of outfalls in the area was recommended. Monitoring for 2016 built on the preliminary investigations from 2014-2015, and includes sampling of additional outfalls near Captain and Millville Ponds and catchment investigations of previously identified “hotspot” outfalls. These efforts will help satisfy new Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination procedures that are required under the 2017 NPDES MS4 Permit for New Hampshire.
FBE began working with the Town of Ogunquit and the Ogunquit Conservation Commission in 2012 to help track sources of fecal indicator bacteria in the bacteria-impaired Ogunquit River. Source tracking has included watershed-wide sampling of the Ogunquit River and its tributaries during both wet and dry weather conditions for Enterococci, as well as canine scent detection to identify sites with human waste present. FBE is currently assisting the Town of Ogunquit on a 319 Phase I and II initiative, as well as a Maine Coastal Community Grant, to monitor and reduce bacteria levels in the Ogunquit River. The high bacteria counts and subsequent public beach advisories are attributed to nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. The goal of these projects is to identify and treat potential sources of bacteria contributing to surface water contamination throughout the watershed. The town has been proactive in maintaining a bacteria monitoring program at more than 10 sites throughout the watershed, and as a result, multiple “hotspots” with high bacteria levels have been identified. With support from the Steering Committee and FBE, this project has and will continue to implement several Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater mitigation within the watershed, evaluate potential areas of illicit discharge from septic and sewer systems, and administer a strong public outreach campaign to enhance local awareness of NPS pollution in stormwater.
FBE assists the Town of North Hampton with identifying sources of bacteria to the Little River, which is listed by the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) as impaired for bacteria for primary and secondary contact recreation. A watershed management plan that was developed in 2011 found that malfunctioning septic systems and stormwater runoff were the primary sources of bacteria to the Little River. Since 2011, FBE has used a variety of tools to help identify “hotspots” of bacterial contamination in the watershed, including bracket testing, microbial source tracking through the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, and canine detection. The results of that testing have led to the discovery of three malfunctioning septic systems, including two large commercial systems. Repair of these sources of bacteria to the Little River began within months, and was completed in the summer of 2013.
In 2013, FBE developed a septic system database for the town that documents and prioritizes the recorded history of all septic systems within 250 feet of the Little River and its tributaries. That same year, North Hampton was awarded a 319 implementation grant from the NHDES for Phase I work that addresses stormwater runoff through the installation of at least three BMPs in key areas. FBE continues annual monitoring of the seven “hotspot” sites in the Little River watershed.
FBE has been assisting the Town of Kittery with tracking sources of fecal indicator bacteria in the bacteria-impaired Spruce Creek since 2005. Our work with the town has been guided by four successful 319 grant implementation phases through the Maine DEP; this work has included bracket sampling of tributaries, canine scent tracking along beaches and throughout storm drain networks, outfall sampling, stormwater and sewer smoke testing of priority neighborhoods, and baseline monitoring of the main stem using continuously recording data sondes. Spruce Creek is an ecologically and economically significant estuarine resource in southern Maine, so the ultimate goal is to identify and remediate stormwater pollutants from existing developed areas in the watershed.
Since 2012, FBE has been collecting baseline data from the main channel of Spruce Creek at two locations (middle and upper estuaries) using data sondes that measure relative depth (tidal cycle), specific conductance, temperature, and dissolved oxygen continuously at 15-min intervals. FBE adheres to the sonde manuals, USGS guidelines, in-house Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and a State-approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for Spruce Creek Watershed-Wide Bacteria Monitoring, ensuring thorough quality assurance and control (QA/QC) for all data collected. Grab samples are also collected throughout the deployment period and analyzed for biological oxygen demand, E. coli, fecal coliform, total phosphorus, nitrate-nitrite-nitrogen, total kjeldahl nitrogen, total organic carbon, and total suspended solids.
Throughout these projects, FBE has made detailed “next step” recommendations to the town to ensure progress in protecting Spruce Creek. FBE also works with the Spruce Creek Association, an award-winning nonprofit water quality organization working to improve and maintain the integrity of the Spruce Creek watershed.
FBE has been conducting compliance monitoring for the Salmon Falls River on behalf of the municipalities of Somersworth and Rollinsford, NH, and Berwick and South Berwick, ME, since 2006. This sampling effort targets typical low-flow summer conditions, defined as <114 cfs measured at the Milton Three Ponds Dam gauging station in Milton, NH. Sampling protocols are in accordance with the 2006 update of the Maine DEP Salmon Falls River TMDL Compliance Monitoring for Phase TMDL Work Plan. Monitoring is conducted at seven locations during three sampling events in late summer (July, August, and September). Two teams collect all samples via canoe from 5-8am when dissolved oxygen is likely to be lowest. Each year, FBE submits the annual report, field sheets, lab results, and chain of custody forms to the Maine DEP for review and approval.