Nabbing Nitrogen–Sunday, July 10th

Sunday, July 10 at 10:10 a.m.!

For our first Nitrogen Nabbing effort we are focusing on the Fore River and Portland Harbor.

For our first Nitrogen Nabbing effort, we are focusing on the Fore River and Portland Harbor.

At 10:10 a.m. on Sunday, July 10, 130 volunteers will Nab Nitrogen in Casco Bay. We are focusing on Portland Harbor and the Fore River to take samples to create a snapshot of nitrogen levels in this area.

 

Media

A Nabbing Nitrogen Media Packet is available to download here.

 

Weather Decision

Due to forecasted inclement weather, we are cancelling ONLY the boater portion of our Nabbing Nitrogen day of action. This decision has been made to protect boater safety. If you had planned to sample by boat, please DO NOT go to your sampling site. The Coordination Boats, where you would have dropped off your sample, will NOT be on the water. There will be no place to relinquish your sample. Boaters, please email slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org  to confirm you will not sample tomorrow, Sunday July 10. We will call you if we do not hear from you shortly.

If you are Nabbing landside in Portland or South Portland, please dress for the weather and show up to your Coordination Site between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

To our kayakers and boaters who had planned to Nab Nitrogen: THANK YOU for caring about the health of Casco Bay. We hope to offer more sampling events in the future. Until then, we would like you to return your Nabbing Kit. Please drop it off at our office any work day, 8:30 AM – 5 PM. Thank you.

 

All of our Nabbing Nitrogen volunteer spots are filled.

If you are not already signed up, we invite you to fill out our volunteer application to learn about our other volunteer opportunities and get put on our email list for the specific volunteer opportunities you are interested in.

 

Nabbing Volunteers: Things you need to know

  • DSC03052editedAll of the detailed and custom information you need to know about Nabbing has been emailed to you. If you can not find those emails, contact slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org.
  • If you will be collecting your sample by boat or another watercraft, we will ask you to pick up supplies prior to July 10.
    • You need to pick up your nabbing kit—a sampling jar, a datasheet with instructions and a map to your location—at our office during the week prior to July 10 during any of the following times:
      • Tuesday, July 5, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
      • Wednesday, July 6, between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      • Thursday, July 7, between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      • Friday, July 8, between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • If you are sampling by land, you will join us at an assigned coordination location between 8:30-9:30 a.m. on July 10th, to pick up your supplies, including sampling instructions, sampling bottle, and data sheet. If you are sampling in Portland, your coordination location is the Gulf of Maine Research Institute parking lot. If you are sampling in South Portland,  your coordination location is the Hannaford Mill Creek, South Portland parking lot
  • On July 10:
    • You will go to your assigned site and wait to sample at 10:10 a.m.. You received an email with a map and sightlines for your Nabbing site—if you cannot find that email (if it is not in your inbox, please look in your spam folder), please email slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org ASAP.
    • You will collect your sample at 10:10 a.m. by scooping water into the sample bottle and filling out your data sheet. Detailed instructions for sampling are below.
    • Return the sample and data sheet to your coordination location before 11 a.m. [Nitrogen samples must be frozen within an hour of collection]. Boaters will rendezvous with one of our coordination boats on the water to turn in their sample and data sheet. Boaters have information about their coordination boat stapled to their datasheet.

 

 

How to Take Your Sample

Nabbing Nitrogen is relatively easy. Once you are at your site and at the water’s edge, here is how to take a sample:

  • Note the time you collect your sample on the datasheet provided.
  • With the cap on, completely submerge the sampling jar, then unscrew the cap while the jar is completely below the surface, and let the jar fill with water. Re-cap while the jar is submerged.
  • This reduces potential contamination by debris on the water’s surface.
  • Remove the jar from the water. Un-cap and pour off any excess water until the water is approximately level with the top of the label on the jar. Replace the cap and make sure it is tightened securely.
  • Complete your data sheet by marking an “X” on the map to show where you sampled.
  • Return the filled jar and data sheet to our Coordination Site—you will need to sign your data sheet after it is reviewed by one of our Coordinators.

 

Debriefing

We will begin debriefing the morning and having a celebratory libation at Andy’s Old Port Pub, 94 Commercial Street, Portland, after we have completed our day of Nabbing Nitrogen. The restaurant is going to reserve an area for our “dutch-treat” get-together. We know that it may be difficult for boaters and kayakers to attend this debrief given the logistics of being on the water—but if you can attend, we will be at Andy’s at least until 1 p.m. Otherwise, we will follow up with you via an online survey.

 

This effort is a partnership between Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the City of South Portland.

This project has been funded in part by Davis Conservation Foundation, Birch Cove Fund at Maine Community Foundation, Horizon Foundation, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, RBC Blue Water Project, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the Bowdoin College Common Good Grant, and other generous supporters. You can support this effort by making a donation here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up?

Sign up has been closed. We invite you to fill out our volunteer application to learn about our other volunteer opportunities and get put on our email list for the specific volunteer opportunities you are interested in.

Why are we picking on Nitrogen?

Source: Castro, M. S., Driscoll, C. T., Jordan, T. E., Reay, W. G., and Boynton, W. R., 2003, Sources of Nitrogen to Estuaries in the United States. Estuaries 26, No. 3: 803-814.

Source: Castro, M. S., Driscoll, C. T., Jordan, T. E., Reay, W. G., and Boynton, W. R., 2003, Sources of Nitrogen to Estuaries in the United States. Estuaries 26, No. 3: 803-814.

Too much nitrogen can turn Casco Bay from a healthy blue to a slimy green. All living things need nitrogen to grow, but an overdose can trigger excessive growth of nuisance algae, reduce water clarity, and lower oxygen levels. This process also releases carbon dioxide, creating acidic conditions that can make it harder for clams and mussels to build and maintain their shells.

By nabbing nitrogen with us, you will help us map nitrogen levels in the Fore River and Portland Harbor—one of the most heavily populated regions in the state. This may allow us to identify problem areas and explore sources of pollution. This effort will provide the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with data needed to ground truth its nitrogen model, used to predict nitrogen sources and distribution in this region. Your effort will help our advocacy efforts to establish a limit on how much nitrogen may be discharged into coastal waters.

Where does nitrogen pollution come from?

Excess nitrogen comes into Casco Bay from three different sources, almost in equal proportion—from sewage, from stormwater runoff, and from air pollution (see pie chart). Water quality sampling by Friends of Casco Bay has shown that nitrogen pollution is most severe in areas that are close to shore, near river mouths, at sewer overflow pipes, and other locations where stormwater runoff reaches the Bay. That is why we have created this event to “Nab Nitrogen.”

Nitrogen is contained in human, pet, and animals wastes, in decaying plants and animals, and is released during the combustion of fossil fuels.  Sewage discharges from wastewater treatment plants, combined sewer overflows, and leaky septic systems add nitrogen from human waste. Stormwater runoff from land flushes oil and dirt from paved surfaces, pet wastes, and fertilizers from lawns, farms, parks, golf courses, into the ocean. Nitrogen also descends from tailpipes and smokestacks, chimneys, and power plants.

Why at this date and time?
Sampling on an outgoing tide is the best time to measure the influence of land-based sources of nitrogen pollution to Casco Bay. We hope 130 community members, especially sea kayakers and boaters, will volunteer and sample simultaneously at 10:10 a.m., just before low tide. These samples will help us create a snapshot of nitrogen concentrations in the Fore River and Portland Harbor, allowing us to better understand land-based sources of nitrogen pollution in this region of Casco Bay.

How many sites can I sample?
Just one.

I can’t sample at 10:10 a.m. on July 10. How can I participate?
Nitrogen Nabbing can be done only at the specified time so that samples are collected simultaneously, to help us create the snapshot. If you want to help out with preparation in the weeks prior to the sampling event, there are other ways for you to be involved. Email slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org to let us know you are interested.

Why are you sampling only in the Fore River and Portland Harbor?
The Maine DEP is refining a model on nitrogen inputs into our coastal waters and needs more data in the Fore River and Portland Harbor. By nabbing nitrogen, you are helping ground truth this model while helping cities, like Portland and South Portland, identify sources of nitrogen moving into Casco Bay.

While this initial effort on July 10 will take place only in Portland and South Portland, we hope to nab nitrogen in the future, in other communities around Casco Bay.

What if weather is an issue?
In case of dangerous weather, you will be asked to monitor our website www.cascobay.org for any notifications regarding weather conditions. Please provide us with a cell phone number that we can text to reach you. Weather contingencies include the following:
• If there is a small craft advisory, we will nab only by land and not by sea.
• If heavy weather is predicted or approaching (hurricane, thunderstorms), we will reschedule the effort to July 24 from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (on that day sampling will take place at 8:24 a.m. due to the difference in tides).

What if I have some other issue that arises on July 10?
Please call our office at (207) 799-8574 in the event that you need any help with any contingencies that may arise.

When will we see the results, the snapshot of nitrogen levels in Portland Harbor on July 10?
The samples will be frozen and sent to a laboratory for analysis. After we receive the results, we will construct a map, plotting the various levels of nitrogen at sites around the harbor. We expect to be able to share the results this fall.

What can I do to prevent nitrogen pollution?

  • Don’t use fertilizers on your lawn.  
  • Plant or retain bushes and trees to keep water from running off your property and into waterways. Go to cascobay.org/bayscaping for more tips on how to grow a green yard to keep Casco Bay blue.
  • Conserve energy, both in terms of electrical usage and gasoline consumption decreases the nitrogen oxides that lead to acid rain formation.  
  • Buy local—locally produced goods have not been transported significant distances, reducing gas consumption and refrigeration during transportation, which also decreases nitrogen emissions.  
  • Eat organic foods. Because they are not treated with commercial fertilizers, further decreasing nitrogen pollution.  
  • Maintain your septic system by having an annual inspection of the tank and having regular pump outs by a licensed professional.
  • Empty your boat’s holding tank at a pumpout facility at your marina or through Friends of Casco Bay’s mobile pumpout service.
  • Burn less oil, wood, and coal to reduce pollution from smokestacks.
  • Keep your car tuned up to reduce pollution from tailpipes.
  • Pick up pet waste.

Calculate your nitrogen footprint at

http://cbf.org/news-media/multimedia/nitrogen-calculator

http://n-print.org/sites/n-print.org/files/footprint_java/index.html#/home

Who are our partners?

This effort is a partnership between Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the City of South Portland.

This project has been funded in part by Davis Conservation Foundation, Birch Cove Fund at Maine Community Foundation, Horizon Foundation, Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, RBC Blue Water Project, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, the Bowdoin College Common Good Grant, and other generous supporters. You can support this effort by making a donation here.

To learn more about why nitrogen is a problem, see our Bay Paper here.