Volunteer Water Sampling and Clean Water Awareness

KELT is Stepping Up to Focus on Water Quality in the Kennebec Estuary


 “Representing a link between Gulf of Maine waters and those draining nearly 8,000 square miles of uplands in Maine and New Hampshire, the Kennebec Estuary is at once a unique assemblage of ecological attributes, a resource of economic, cultural and social value, and a region of historical significance.”-Kennebec Estuary Report, 2010

Why Water Sampling?

At the start of 2013, towns in the Kennebec Estuary were facing a severe lack of information about their coastal water quality. Outside of bacteria information, there had been virtually no collection of coastal water quality data. Understanding how characteristics like pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) varied within the estuarine waters is vital to understanding the health of the coastal waters in Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich, and Arrowsic and the local economies they support. Raising awareness in the community about the importance of water quality and what people can do to protect it is also vital to the long-term health of water in the Kennebec Estuary.

Volunteer Water Sampling Projects

KELT started volunteer water sampling in the Kennebec Estuary in 2013 in the town of Georgetown.  In 2014, sampling expanded to include Phippsburg.  Now, there are 19 sites sampled across the 2 towns.  The sampling by KELT and volunteers is allowing us to build information about the current state of the estuary and identify when any changes occur.  Our water sampling program is called ‘WAKE’ for ‘Water Awareness in the Kennebec Estuary.’

What Are We Testing and Why?

How are the waters tested?

  • 2016 WAKE Volunteer Manual: All the details about our methods and procedures for water sampling are included in our volunteer manual.
  • WAKE Quality Assurance Project Plan: Our guidelines for maintaining data quality are outlined in our Quality Assurance Project Plan, approved by the Maine DEP in 2016.

Project Findings


  • KELT Fall Lecture Series Powerpoint


  • Phippsburg Water Sampling Report
    • By Phippsburg High School Student, Havi Ellers



This program depends on fantastic volunteers who collect and test the water every other week from May through October.

Interested in Being a Volunteer Water Sampler?

Contact Ruth Indrick at: rindrick@kennebecestuary.org or 442-8400 to sign-up or find out more information.

  • The next volunteer training will be in April 2017

Other Research in the Kennebec Estuary

The Bowdoin Biogeochemistry class visited Georgetown’s clam flats in 2013 to analyze the relationship between clam shell thickness and the characteristics of the water, mud, sand and rocks at two of Georgetown’s clam flats:

Monica Wright’s 7th grade classes from Bath Middle School learned about clamming and surveyed populations of green crabs at Reid State Park and Robinhood Cove:

Community Focus on Water Quality in the Kennebec Estuary

MWright-SDS Blitz-Bath 3

completed kits 2

LTrundy-SDS Blitz 4






Storm Drain Stenciling

Thank you

Funding to support the work in 2013 was provided by a grant from the Maine Coastal Program. Funding for the work in 2014 was provided by a grant from Merrymeeting Bay Trust.  Funding to support water programming in 2015 was provided by a partnership with Phippsburg Land Trust and the Davis Conservation Foundation.  Funding for work in 2016 was provided by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

“Currently,  a lack of estuary-specific data hinders attempts to assess water quality or characterize its most important influences in this segment of the Kennebec… continuing the dialogue on water quality is necessary not only to meet new challenges but also to reinvigorate the restoration progress.”-Kennebec Estuary Report, 2010