In fulfillment of its mission to "preserve and protect West Harbor Pond," the WHPWA performs several types of water testing to monitor the Pond’s water quality on an on-going basis.
Water column testing: Each month year-round (ice conditions permitting), the WHPWA measures dissolved oxygen and salinity throughout the water column. These measurements are taken in mid-pond and at the dam. A white buoy marks each testing site. Dissolved oxygen is a crucial metric of water quality, It is needed by fish to survive and is reduced by bacteria in the water that consume oxygen from decaying organic matter such as pond weed and leaves. Elevated levels of salinity inhibit pond turn-over and oxygenation. The WHP replacement siphon, which began operation in March 2019, has dramatically reduced the Pond’s salinity and increased its oxygenation, resulting in a significant improvement in water quality. We credit much of the recent improvement in water quality to the effect of the Siphon - learn more here.
Secchi disk clarity readings: The WHPWA performs Secchi disk clarity readings twice monthly from May through October in collaboration with the Lake Stewards of Maine (LSM). Water clarity is affected by algal growth and other suspended matter in the water, and the Secchi disk, which measures clarity, is a generally reliable tool for quickly and inexpensively assessing lake water quality. Collecting Secchi transparency data over time permits the WHPWA and the LSM to identify and track long-term water quality trends in the Pond.
Ortho-phosphate testing: In conjunction with the monthly water column testing, the WHPWA collects a water sample to be tested for ortho-phosphates. High levels of ortho-phosphates promote algal growth, which negatively impacts water quality.
Fecal coliform testing: The droppings of geese and other wildlife raise the fecal coliform levels of the Pond, potentially posing a health hazard to Pond users. The WHPWA periodically collects and tests water samples for fecal coliform and shares its findings with the membership and with the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club.
Ice coverage: The length of time that the Pond remains ice-covered during the winter is directly correlated with water quality, with longer ice coverage promoting greater water quality. Since 2010, the WHPWA has kept track of ice-in and ice-out. More information on the impact of ice coverage can be found here.