Waterlines is a publication of the Senator George J. Mitchell
Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of
Baldacci, Senator Mitchell & President Hoff to Speak at 2004 Water
The theme for this year's Maine Water Conference, "Environmental
legacies as a context for emerging issues", has drawn the interest
of both Senator Mitchell and Governor Baldacci - both have agreed to
speak at the conference which will take place Wednesday, April 21 at
the Augusta Civic Center.
Senator Mitchell will speak on his signature legislation, the Clean
Air Act, leading into a discussion on the legacy of environmental
protection. Governor Baldacci is expected to discuss the
environmental initiatives of his administration, and the legacy and
future of Maine's environment. University of Maine President Peter
Hoff will introduce Governor Baldacci and will speak on the history
and importance of environmental research at the University.
Other speakers at the morning
plenary session include Mitchell Center Director, Steve Kahl,
who will speak prior to Senator Mitchell and will discuss the
response of surface water chemistry in the region to the 1990 Clean
Air Act Amendments, legislation spearheaded by Mitchell. Greg
Mitchell, Assistant City Administrator for Lewiston will talk about the Lewiston
waterfront restoration project. This included the huge brownfields
effort at the Bates Mill complex. This project has successfully
created 2,200 jobs in eight years. The Penobscot River Restoration
Project will reconfigure hydropower facilities to open more that 500
miles of habitat to sea-run fish on the Penobscot River. Laura Rose
Day, Director of Penobscot Partners and Scott Hall, Manger of
Environmental Services, PPL Maine will discuss this historic project
and its potential effects on fisheries and other ecosystems.
Afternoon sessions will focus
on a variety of water-related topics including lake management tools
and strategies, Maine's salmon rivers, riverfront renewal and
development, tracking the movement of biosolid leachates through
soils, and a "What's in the Legislature" roundtable discussion (see
agenda for details).
A juried student poster exhibit
will award prizes for both the best undergraduate and best graduate
poster. Student posters and other exhibits by organizations,
agencies, departments, consultants and businesses are available for
viewing during lunch and breaks.
Registration for the Maine
Water Conference is only $35 and includes lunch, all conference
sessions and break snacks. Exhibitors should go to the
exhibitor information page for
registration information. For additional conference information,
e-mail UMGMC@maine.edu or call
Maine Water Conference Sponsors
- U.S. Geological Survey, WRD, Augusta
- Maine DHS Drinking Water Program
- Portland Water District
- Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and
- Consumers Maine Water Company
- Maine Congress of Lake Associations
- Maine Department of Environmental Protection
- Maine Geological Survey
- Maine Rivers
- Maine Rural Water Association
- Maine Wastewater Control Association
- Maine Water Utilities Association
- Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program
- NOAA Fisheries
- Project SHARE
- State Planning Office Maine Coastal Program
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Center Research Laboratory Specializes in Water Chemistry
The Mitchell Center's Watershed Research Laboratory currently
resides in Holmes Hall, a short walk from the Center's main offices.
In late 2004, the laboratory will move to its permanent home in
Norman Smith Hall, and all components of the Mitchell Center will be
housed under one roof.
The laboratory supports research projects for faculty and students
at the University of Maine. This includes long-term Mitchell Center
research projects such as regionalized long term lake monitoring,
high elevation lake monitoring, stream water chemistry research at
Acadia National Park, and water chemistry research on salmon rivers
and streams in Downeast Maine.
The laboratory specializes in low ionic strength surface waters,
precipitation, groundwater, and trace metals in solution. One of our
research specialties is trend analysis detecting small changes in
chemical conditions, requiring highly precise and accurate methods
and instrumentation. We offer a number of very specialized analyses,
such as closed cell pH, air-equilibrated pH, Gran Plot acid
neutralizing capacity, and bromide at trace levels.
A main research area is trend assessment in surface waters
pertaining to the Clean Air Act. Funded and quality-assured by EPA,
this research extends from Maine to Pennsylvania.
The laboratory offers a full suite of chemical capabilities
including pH, alkalinity, color, conductance, anions, cations,
nutrients, and trace metals.
For additional information on lab capabilities, contact our staff at
207/581-3491 or by e-mail at
Friends of the Mitchell Center
We thank the following for their generous donations to the Mitchell
Quirk Auto Park
Paul & Yvette Mitchell
Consumers Maine Water
Friends of Acadia
Dr. John Alexander
Nale Law Offices
Clinton B. Townsend
Completes Drought Study for the Maine Drinking Water Program
Population increases from development and tourism can worsen the
effects of drought on drinking water supplies, according to research
by a recent graduate of the Water Resources Program. Catherine
Schmitt, M.S. 2003, found that drinking water systems that were
affected by the statewide 2001-2002 drought were located along the
populated coastal region in areas where seasonal tourism and
development increase water demand.
Maine lakes and
streams serve as significant sources of public water supply, serving
40 % of the population. Drought affects surface water resources by
reducing water quantity and altering water quality, for example by
reducing inputs of materials from the watershed and increasing water
residence times. The 2001-2002 drought was the worst in Maine in
over thirty years, and it exposed deficiencies in current water
resources planning and management.
project looked at the effects of the 2001-2002 drought on Maine
public water systems in order to identify systems likely to be
vulnerable to future droughts. Her research included:
A review of
reported drought problems;
a survey of public
surface water systems to identify systems affected by the drought;
effects of drought on water quantity and quality using historical
hydrological and chemical data from a group of public water supply
the best indicators of drought sensitivity;
public water system drought planning and management.
A key finding was
that drought conditions or low lake levels alone were not enough to
drive a system to implement water conservation measures; increased
demand had to occur simultaneously. Forty-five of approximately 400
public groundwater systems and eight of 68 surface water systems
were affected by the drought, although most systems experienced
below-average water levels. Neither drought conditions nor
environmental factors such as morphometry or geology were enough to
cause a system to be adversely affected by the drought; instead, the
drought affected systems that were withdrawing volumes of water in
excess of their safe yield in order to satisfy demand.
No one knows when the
next drought will strike, but Schmitt’s research on the effects of
the 2001-2002 drought indicates that public surface water systems
that already operate close to capacity and that experience seasonal
increases in demand are most likely to encounter difficulties in a
variable and uncertain climate.
Click here for additional
information on Catherine's research.
NRC Report on Maine
Dams represent the greatest impediment to the
increase of salmon populations in Maine, according to a national
report released earlier this year. The National Research Council,
which released the report, was charged with assessing the status of
Atlantic salmon populations after salmon in eight Maine rivers were
listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2000.
Maine is home to most of the Atlantic salmon
remaining in the United States, 90% of which return to the Penobscot
River. Yet in recent years, less than 1,000 Atlantic salmon have
returned to Maine rivers. In addition to dams, which obstruct salmon
passage up and down streams and contribute to habitat degradation,
the report also found that the mortality of young salmon in
estuaries and at sea is a serious problem. While the cause of excess
mortality is still uncertain, acidification of streams may be
contributing to the decline in salmon populations.
Scientists at the Mitchell Center, with funding from the Atlantic
Salmon Commission and the USGS, have been working to assess water
quality in Downeast salmon rivers. Part of this research project is
to collect data on water chemistry variables such as acidity,
aluminum, dissolved organic carbon, and base cations as well as
evaluating existing long-term chemical databases to identify recent
trends in water quality.
The NRC’s Committee on Atlantic Salmon had
already established, in an interim report released in 2002, that the
salmon in Maine’s rivers listed as endangered are genetically
distinct populations. The new report reviews available scientific
information on the status of Atlantic salmon, and ranks the current
threats to population increases. The report makes a significant
contribution to efforts to reverse the decline in Atlantic salmon
populations, including research at the Mitchell Center. The report
also provides recommendations in support of current river
restoration efforts such as the Penobscot River Restoration Project.
The report, Atlantic Salmon in Maine, is
available online from the National Academy Press at
Photograph of Randy Spencer, Fishery Biologist,
ASC, courtesy of the Atlantic Salmon
CENTER WISH LIST
DID YOU KNOW?
Over 830,000 Americans donated their cars in 2002.
The Mitchell Center is looking for a few
“gently-used” cars for field and other research-related work.
If you would like to donate your vehicle, see it put to good use,
and get a tax deduction, contact the Mitchell Center at 581-3196 or
The photo on the right is of our Nissan
Pathfinder which was generously donated to the Center by Paul
Haertel. As you can see, we put it to very good use!
BUZZ AT THE MITCHELL CENTER
page profile in Bangor Daily News for Mitchell Center Director
The December 24, 2003 edition of
the Bangor Daily News included a front-page profile of Steve Kahl,
Director of the Mitchell Center. The story is based on the recent
announcement of Kahl's election as president-elect of the National
Institute for Water Resources. Kahl, a graduate of the University
of Maine, will be the first NIWR president from a New England
state. An Associated Press version of the story appeared in the
December 24th edition of the Portland Press Herald. The
Bangor Daily News
article is available as an Adobe Acrobat document.
Center student receives NALMS conference “Best Student Poster”
In early November, Mitchell
student Kirsten Ness attended the North American
Lake Management (NALMS) Conference in Mashantucket, CT. While at
the conference, Kirsten presented a poster based on her
thesis study design
and conceptual model, as well as preliminary results from the
project’s summer 2003 sampling. Entitled "Defining reference
conditions for measuring the effects of shoreline development on
lakes in Maine", the poster received the “Best Student Poster”
award at the conference. Kirsten’s advisor is Dr. Katherine
Webster who is the principal investigator on the study along with
Roy Bouchard of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Collaborations with Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
(IF&W), the Atlantic Salmon Commission (ASC) / NOAA Fisheries
and USGS will
provide funding for new developments on PEARL in upcoming months.
Under the direction of Peter Vaux, the first
priority is to enable the incorporation of stream and river data into
PEARL. This will allow newly digitized IF&W stream population and
habitat data, and biological data from the Maine Aquatic
Biodiversity Project to be uploaded into PEARL. In addition, major
site revisions will enhance the user-friendliness of this
data-sharing ‘forum’. This will include development of customized
for two targeted user-group such as anglers and educators/students.
After discussion with ASC, development is underway to use PEARL as the web-based information resource for the Atlantic salmon
research and restoration effort. The recent National Research
Council report recommended that salmon data and supporting
information be provided in an on-line GIS-searchable mode as soon as
possible. This project anticipated this recommendation.
As part of this project, substantial new information for rivers,
streams, and salmon watersheds, plus the associated map coverage for
these watersheds will be added to PEARL. The information will be
available in a single location for access by salmon researchers,
managers, watershed groups and other interested parties. Similarly,
PEARL will serve a key outreach and information function for the
general public interested in salmon.
Children's Water Festival
This year's Northern Maine Children's Water Festival will be held on
Tuesday, October 12. The Festival provides students from across northern Maine
opportunity to participate in a fun-filled day of water-related
Students compete for prizes, play games and explore the science and culture
of water. More than 800 middle school students participate in the Festival held at the
University of Maine campus in Orono.
The event is a collaborative effort
involving the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental
and Watershed Research and the College of Education and Human
Development at UMaine, state agencies, water suppliers and
businesses. The goal, according to Barbara Welch of the
Department of Environmental Protection, is to engage students in
learning about Maine’s water resources. Those resources include
lakes, rivers, wetlands, estuaries and groundwater.
For additional information on the Children's Water Festival, or
if you are interested in volunteering or sponsoring the event,
please contact Ruth Hallsworth
at the Mitchell Center (581-3196).
July declared Lake Appreciation Month
Steve Kahl (Mitchell Center), Katherine Webster (Biology) and
Catherine Schmitt (Mitchell Center) represented the University
of Maine at "Maine Lake Day", a ceremony held Friday, March 23 to
recognize the importance of protecting Maine's lakes. The event took
place at the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta. The
University delegation presented posters and displays at the event
focusing on lake research undertaken by Mitchell Center staff,
faculty and graduate students. Governor Baldacci made a presentation
at the event to declare July "Lake Appreciation Month."
Waterlines moves to the web
We are moving Waterlines to an on-line format. If you would like
to receive notification via e-mail of our next web publication date,
please contact us at
UMGMC@maine.edu. An abridged version of Waterlines is also
available in print. If you would like to receive the print version,
please contact us at
UMGMC@maine.edu with your mailing address.
If you would like to submit an article for
publication in Waterlines, please contact us at 207/581-3244 or