Bay Water Temperatures Increased 1.6°C (3°F)
in Three Decades
Inshore Waters May Be More Vulnerable to Water Quality Problems
WHY IT MATTERS
Water quality refers to physical, chemical, and biological properties of the waters in an aquatic ecosystem. This chapter focuses on six measures of water quality in the Bay: temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, pH, and chlorophyll. These measures provide insight into how the biology of the Bay interacts with physical mixing processes to produce clean waters that support healthy fisheries and coastal ecosystems. The chapters on Nutrients, Shellfish and Swimming Beaches, and Coastal Acidification present closely related information on the Bay’s water quality.
Friends of Casco Bay (FOCB) staff and volunteers have monitored water quality at dozens of sites since the early 1990s, making it possible to develop an understanding of how the Bay is changing and how conditions vary among regions of the Bay. Recent adoption of new continuous monitoring technologies by FOCB, University of Maine, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection is further expanding our understanding of water quality.
STATUS & TRENDS
Continuous Monitoring Reveals Seasonal Changes
Dissolved Oxygen Daily Cycle
Temperature Hints at Vulnerability to Pollution
Water Quality by Location
Long-term Bay-wide Trends
successes & challenges
- Conditions in much of Casco Bay remain good, because Maine’s large tides bring in cooler, salty, offshore waters, thus helping to protect the Bay from water quality problems.
- Inshore waters have limited tidal mixing, shallow depths and naturally warmer water, making them more vulnerable to many water quality problems. They are also more directly influenced by runoff, discharges, and other human activity.
- Rising water temperatures are a reminder that climate change already affects conditions in the Bay. Warmer waters are expected to lead to changes in organisms found in the Bay, affecting fisheries, tourism and recreation.
- Water quality monitoring is transitioning towards more automated sensors, more continuous data, and fewer locations. This improves understanding of daily, tidal, and seasonal changes in water quality at those locations. Discrete monitoring at other locations remains essential for understanding conditions around the Bay.