USGS, Acadia National Park Partner on Water Science Projects
The U.S. Geological Survey New England Water Science Center and Acadia National Park (ANP) have a longstanding partnership conducting monitoring and research to better understand the freshwater resources at ANP.
Many water resource projects developed for work at ANP are funded through the Natural Resources Preservation Program (NRPP), a cooperative program where USGS and National Park Service (NPS) scientists and managers collaboratively identify priority research needs of the parks.
In 2006, ANP, in collaboration with USGS, initiated a long-term streamgaging network to learn about the park’s watersheds and how extreme weather and climate change may alter the quality and quantity of water in streams. The objective of the “2006 Freshwater Vital Signs Monitoring Plan” was to detect changes in streamflow at Acadia over time, and the streamflow information was intended to help interpret the water quality data and guide management and maintenance decisions. The plan included an inventory of the park’s freshwater resources, a selection of water-quality monitoring variables and the development of water-quality monitoring protocols.
Supervisory Hydrologist Pamela Lombard assisted in setting up the streamflow monitoring protocols in 2006 and was able to review the streamgaging network data in a 2023 publication that also developed equations to estimate low streamflows at stations that do not have continuous data collection.
The streamgaging network includes a continuous-monitoring streamgage on Otter Creek Near Bar Harbor, Maine, which collects streamflow data at 15-minute intervals, and 14 partial-record stations where water quality and streamflow are measured monthly. The network was designed so that the Otter Creek station could be used as an “index gage” and its’ continuous data is applied to the partial-record data on similar streams within ANP to extend their streamflow information. Baseflow, or streamflow not influenced by storm runoff, can be estimated using the new equations published in the 2023 report at the partial-record stations during low-flow conditions.
“The Otter Creek streamgage was critical for determining streamflow on these other streams throughout the park and is the only streamgage that collects data at all times of the year, including high-flow conditions,” said Lombard.
Collaborative efforts are continuing with a new project aimed at mitigating stream flooding. USGS and ANP staff are working together to identify reaches within the national park that are most vulnerable to erosion from flooding and to identify bridge or culvert infrastructure that is unable to accommodate high flows from floods. This project will help park managers prioritize culvert replacement throughout ANP.
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