Students conduct field tests to record the dissolved oxygen of Thatcher Brook. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Students conduct field tests to record the dissolved oxygen of Thatcher Brook. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — How can you tell if a river or stream is in good health? What plants and animals are indicators of good water quality? How do you collect the information that will tell you?

Well, Biddeford High School students from Mrs. Kelsey Johnson’s 11th and 12th grade science classes would be able to help answer these very questions.

In October, the Biddeford Conservation Commission worked with Emily Greene from the University of New England and Jenna Martyn-Fisher from the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, to bring more than 20 students to Thatcher Brook to conduct three water quality tests.

Thatcher Brook sample sites were behind Kohl’s and near the Biddeford Park and Ride. With permission from the City of Biddeford and Kohl’s, students walked from site to site recording dissolved oxygen, conducted streamline assessments and collected and released macroinvertebrates in Thatcher Brook.

“What you guys are assessing today in Thatcher Brook, is exactly how professionals determine water quality in the field,” said Greene.

The purpose of doing these assessments is to demonstrate to students the importance of looking at multiple indicators of water quality to make better informed decisions about water quality protection.

During their macroinvertebrate sampling, students identified a dobsonfly larva, which can only be found in clean to moderately clean environments. For sampling so late in the season, the dobsonfly was a great find.


Students rotated between calculating streamflow and observing vegetation type, to collecting water samples and identifying other macroinvertebrates such as crayfish.

The Biddeford Conservation Commission will continue its Thatcher Brook Watershed education and outreach into the spring semester of 2018 with Biddeford High School, St. James School and Biddeford Middle School.

The Conservation Commission will continue its partnership with the University of New England’s Sustaining Water class taught by Dr. Christine Feurt.

For the past few years, university students have worked with the Commission to complete education campaigns to raise awareness of Thatcher Brook impairment. The Conservation Commission also has plans to include Arundel’s Mildred L. Day School in their education and outreach plans since Arundel and Biddeford share the Thatcher Brook Watershed.

Between the two municipalities, there are about 25,000 residents that live within the watershed boundaries.

The expansion of Thatcher Brook education and outreach came about due to the combined efforts of the Kennebunk/Kennebunkport Water District, Maine Water Company and the Biddeford Conservation Commission pitching in financial resources to purchase a watershed table outreach model from EnviroScape.

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