Waterlines is a publication of the Senator George J. Mitchell
Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of
U.S. CONGRESSMAN TOM
ALLEN TO GIVE KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT 2005 MAINE WATER CONFERENCE
Tom Allen will provide the keynote address at this year’s Maine
Water Conference which will take place on Tuesday, March 22
at the Augusta Civic Center. The theme for the conference is
Representative Allen will speak on “The Great Policy Abyss: Oceans
and Estuaries in the 21st Century”. Other speakers for the plenary
session include David Evers, Executive Director of BioDiversity
Research Institute, Shippen Bright, Chair of the Federal Invasive
Species Advisory Committee and Executive Director of Maine Lakes
Conservancy Institute, John Banks, Director of Natural Resources for
the Penobscot Indian Nation, and Stephen Dickson, Marine Geologist
with Maine Geological Survey.
A juried student poster exhibit
will award prizes for best undergraduate and graduate posters.
Posters and other exhibits are available for viewing during lunch
Afternoon sessions will focus on specific water-related topics.
Sessions III, V and VI have been approved for two Training Contact
Hours (TCH) through the State of Maine Board of Licensure of Water
System Operators. Click here for a
full listing of concurrent afternoon sessions.
Registration for the Maine
Water Conference is only $38 and includes lunch, all conference
sessions and break snacks. Exhibitors should go to the
exhibitor web page for
registration information. For additional conference information, go
to the Maine Water Conference web
page or call 207/581-3196.
MWC 2005 SPONSORS
- U.S. Geological Survey
George J. Mitchell Center
- Maine Drinking Water Program
- Portland Water District
- Aqua Maine
- Maine Coastal Program
- Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection
- Maine Rural Water Association
- Maine Wastewater Control Association
Water Utilities Association
Congress of Lake Associations
- Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring
- Maine Rivers
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Maine Sea Grant
DAVE KRAMAR —
LEARNING FROM LOONS
Dave Kramar likes a good adrenaline rush; the kind you get from
scaling a cliff or handling a really big bird. However, there are
aspects of computer programming that also give him a small thrill.
His sense of adventure is one of the things that brought him to
Maine, and his variety of interests and experience make him a great
match for the Mitchell Center.
Born in California and raised in Virginia, Dave received a
Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Planning from Appalachian State
University. He went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Geography from
Virginia Tech, and his graduate research brought him to Maine. His
thesis work involved employing GIS-based mapping techniques to
estimate the levels of mercury found in loon blood from land cover
characteristics. The project was a collaborative effort with the
BioDiversity Research Institute (BRI), a non-profit research group
based in Gorham, Maine. The collaboration provided Dave with some
great field work opportunities; paddling around on lakes in western
Maine and catching loons, ducks, eagles, and osprey to obtain blood
and feather samples.
Dave has been able to build upon his master’s work as a PhD
student in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program through
the Mitchell Center. His current thesis work is multivariate, and
continues his collaboration with BRI of mercury contamination in
piscivores at the top of the food chain (predominantly loons,
eagles, and osprey). Working with advisor Kate Beard in the Spatial
Information Engineering department, Dave has been developing an
integrated personal digital assistant (or PDA)-based system to
streamline the process of data collection from blood mercury
samples. This system will enable a group of researchers to
independently gather data from the field, and seamlessly link and
upload the data to BRI’s main database. In the future, Dave
envisions this new system being used by researchers from a wide
geographical area, allowing them to contribute and synthesize data
aspect of Dave’s research involves the incorporation of water
quality into his previous research on land cover and blood mercury
levels. He will resample the areas that he previously studied, but
will obtain water samples to test for pH, dissolved oxygen,
dissolved organic carbon, and other parameters. He will combine
water quality data with the land cover data in a regression
analysis, and compare the resultant blood mercury level predictions
with the results from his previous research.
In an additional phase of the project, Dave will collect blood
samples from osprey in his research area to test for mercury levels.
The bioaccumulation of mercury in osprey should be comparable to the
levels found in loons from similar areas, since both birds are high
trophic level species with similar diets. Since it is far easier to
obtain a blood sample from a loon that from an osprey, Dave hopes to
demonstrate a method of estimating mercury levels in osprey from
The final phase of Dave’s doctoral research will be the
development of GIS-based models incorporating all the data
collected. These models, once completed, may be used to predict
mercury levels and risk in other areas.
is supporting his graduate work by working on PEARL, the web-based,
searchable database for Maine water resources data and information,
housed at the Mitchell Center. He is currently perfecting the
internet mapping component, and performs additional debugging and
related programming. In his spare time, Dave enjoys rock climbing,
whitewater kayaking, and back-country skiing with his wife, Laura,
and their two dogs, Echo and Sadie. He says he likes being involved
with the Mitchell Center because, “the work is progressive and good,
and provides opportunities for all sorts of involvement”. He adds,
“I’m kept so busy, it keeps me out of trouble”.
MINING'S IMPACT ON
residents of Maine get their water from wells drilled into
underground sand and gravel aquifers. These deposits are remnants of
the glaciers that once covered the state, and store large volumes of
clean groundwater. In some areas, however, sand and gravel deposits
also supply material for use in construction and road building. It
is not known how much sand and gravel can be mined before water
resources are affected.
Graduate student Teresa Thornton and Mitchell Center assistant
director John Peckenham are studying the relationship between sand
and gravel mining and groundwater in the towns of Lamoine, Hancock,
and Ellsworth. One of the project's goals is to ensure that
communities have clean, plentiful groundwater supplies while
maintaining commercial use of sand and gravel.
has spent most of the winter working with volunteers to identify
private wells on or near the large sand and gravel aquifer that runs
from Ellsworth to Lamoine. Data collection included measuring water
levels in the wells, surveying residents about water quality, and
sampling aquifer-fed springs and streams for water quality.
Meanwhile, an assessment of abandoned, existing, and potential
gravel pits will provide an estimate of sand and gravel mining
activity. "We are close to identifying areas where groundwater is at
risk from gravel pit mining, but the instances of a negative impact
are few," said Peckenham.
The project is funded by the Island Foundation, New England
Grassroots Environmental Fund, Maine Drinking Water Program, Maine
Community Foundation, Cold Spring Water Co., Lamoine Conservation
Commission, and Lamoine Alliance for Water.
WORKING TOGETHER TO
PROTECT ATLANTIC SALMON HABITAT
The watersheds of the five Downeast salmon rivers cover
approximately 840,000 acres, the majority of which are managed by a
handful of commercial landowners. Since the Endangered Species Act
listing of Atlantic salmon in 2000, conflicts have arisen between
protecting salmon and the continued use of the land for timber
harvesting, blueberry crops, and recreation.
For the last 10 years, Project SHARE has been promoting and
supporting collaborative efforts to improve salmon habitat in
Washington County. On Feb. 7, landowners and state and federal
agency representatives gathered at the University of Maine with the
purpose of strengthening existing partnerships and creating new
Steven Koenig, executive director of Project SHARE, invited the
stakeholders — who are not always on the same side of the issues —
to highlight the success that can come from collaborative work.
Despite over ten years of cooperative efforts, much remains to be
done to restore Atlantic salmon to Maine.
Governor John Baldacci told the group, "You’ve made an awful lot of
progress, but we have a lot more work to do."
Federal agencies have identified several potential impacts from land
use activities that could affect Atlantic salmon, including stream
channelization, water withdrawals, chemical use, sedimentation and
erosion, elevated water temperatures, and obstructions to fish
Potential impacts can be minimized by implementing "best management
practices," or BMPs. By identifying sites where BMPs are needed,
Project SHARE is able to prioritize subwatersheds for project
funding. "Think about opportunities on your land where Project SHARE
can help," Koenig told the landowners in the audience, "be aware of
each other's activities, get together when in the planning stages.
If you're aware of what the issues are, we can work together."
For more information about Project SHARE, visit
BROWN BAG IT! Spring 05
Brown Bag It! seminars are open to all and take
place in the Mitchell Center Conference Room in Norman Smith Hall.
Drinks and snacks are provided.
Friday, March 18, noon
Jeff Varrichionne, Maine DEP
Impacts of Urbanization on Streams
Friday, April 1, noon
Neil Kamman, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Fate, Transport and Control of Mercury in Northeastern Landscapes
Friday, April 15, noon
Dave Courtemanch, Maine DEP
Experiences from the Edwards Dam Removal
FRIENDS OF THE MITCHELL CENTER
We thank the following for their generous
donations to the Mitchell Center:
& Ann Banning
BUZZ AT THE MITCHELL CENTER
Congratulations to Heather Caron, who
completed her Master's thesis defense on January 11.
Caron researched groundwater and nutrient dynamics in the Fresh
Meadow wetland on Mount Desert Island. This work is part of a larger
study of the effects of residential development on the Northeast
Creek estuary. Heather is currently an aquatic ecologist/chemist at
Have the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air
Act, championed by Senator Mitchell, been successful in reducing the
acidity of surface waters? A large amount of the research
conducted at the Mitchell Center is designed to answer this
question. Some lakes have recovered as a result of decreases in
sulfate mandated by the Act, but it is still unknown whether or not
fish and other biota have recovered, according to a paper published
in the December 15, 2004 issue of Environmental Science &
Technology. Former Mitchell Center Director Steve Kahl is the lead
author of the paper and affiliate faculty member Katherine Webster
is a co-author. Read the full article at
article in the winter issue of Friends of Acadia Journal profiles
the research of doctoral student Sarah Nelson. Nelson, a
Canon Scholar, is studying the amount of mercury in snow that falls
at two research watersheds within the Park. Her work will help
complete the "mercury puzzle" that has long been a focus of Mitchell
Center research collaborations. The article is available at
The Watershed Research Laboratory
recently received an excellent and a satisfactory performance rating
from two separate, independent audit programs. The lab
received a rating of excellent by the U.S. Geological Survey's
Standard Reference Sample project - putting the lab in the top 15%
of those participating. A rating of satisfactory was received from
Environment Canada's Proficiency Testing Program, which is
distributed to several hundred environmental laboratories in Canada
and around the world.
If you would like to submit an article for
publication in Waterlines, please contact us at 207/581-3196 or