Water Quality and River Restoration

The page provides many documents and links to source material regarding water quality and river restoration issues in the watershed. Please send to us additional documents or links that you think should be published or archived here to assist various students, informal working groups, planners, or researchers.

The photos are from the May 2016 “World Fish Migration Day” celebration on the Royal, organized and supported by a dozen local organizations to connect people and communities to fisheries and the Royal River.


The State of the River, Session II:  Reconnecting, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 7 pm First Parish Congregational Church, 116 Main Street, Yarmouth.  This session is intended to deepen understanding of connections to the Royal Rover —  past, present and future. More presentation material will be posted here before and after the session. Planned presentations include:

  • Bill Gregory and Art Bell, Yarmouth residents, Royal River Alliance members as Yarmouth First Parish Congregational Church Earth Stewardship Team. The Church’s recent “manifesto” document titled The Royal River Watershed Needs Our Help calls attention to the current conditions of the river and its dams.  Bill’s recent column in the Press Herald reflects on the need for the river to heal.
  • Karyn Marden, member of the Wabanaki community:  Personal and spiritual connections to the Royal
  • Josh Royte, Yarmouth resident, The Nature Conservancy: Restoring the balance in the Royal River

The State of the River, Session I:  Water Quality/Nitrogen, March 16, 2018.  This panel presentation convened by the Royal River Conservation Trust and the Royal River Alliance in March 2018 included four presentations regarding (especially) recent nitrogen testing on the Royal River, Cousins River, the Estuaries, and Casco Bay. Here is a Forecaster article summarizing the event.  Here is a video (click through to “public forums”) which recorded most (but not all) of the event. The four powerpoints are provided here. Casco Bay Wide Context, Curtis C. Bohlen, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. Water Quality 2005 to 2017, Ivy Frignoca, Friends of Casco Bay. Preliminary Estimates of Tributary Nitrogen Load to Casco Bay, Maine: Royal River, Dr. Damian Brady and Whitley Gray, University of Maine. 2016, 2017 Estuarine Water Quality and Modeling in the Royal and Cousins Rivers, Angela Brewer and Robert Mohlar, Division of Environmental Assessment, Bureau of Water Quality, Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Royal River Fish Passage Studies Summary (January 2018): The consulting firm GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., worked to summarize in twelve pages in plain English many of the studies that are posted in their entirety on this page, below. This two-page fact sheet is GZA’s summary of GZA’s summary.

Fishway Assessment and Cost Analysis Report (January 2018):  This report by the consulting firm Inter-Fluve is a technical report on alternatives (do nothing, dam removal, fish passage) at Bridge Street and East Elm Street. Importantly, readers of this report should supplement it with the October 2017 USFWS analysis of Middle Falls & Factory Channel posted below.

TNC and DEP sediment analysis at Bridge Street (November 20, 2017): TNC and DEP conclude that the Bridge Street impoundment is relatively clean. See related Press Herald 2016 story, posted below. And here is the November 24, 2017, Portland Press Herald follow-up story. And here is the full source report from Stantec, commissioned by The Nature Conservancy March 16, 2016.

Trout Unlimited Sebago Chapter correspondence to FERC and Yarmouth Town Council (November 9, 2017): Trout Unlimited’s correspondence may understate the role of local jurisdiction, and may inaccurately characterize the existence of hyrdopower negotiations. And here is Town Manager Nat Tupper’s November 14 analytical response to Trout Unlimited.

USFWS Analysis Regarding Fish Passage at Middle Falls (October 2017): With a few days work, Factory Channel could be made an effective fish bypass of Middle Falls.

Lewiston Sun Journal Article on Brandy Brook fish passage (September 2017): Royal River Alliance partners helped improve fish passage in New Gloucester, on Brandy Brook, to improve wild trout habitat.

Royal River Alliance correspondence with USFWS, FERC filing (March 2017): Royal River Alliance leaders asked USFWS to analyze effective fish passage at the Bridge Street (Sparhawk) dam.

Fish Ladders on U.S. Dams Are Not Effective (April 2013): Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Royal River Alliance correspondence with the Town of Yarmouth, FERC filing (Febuary 2017):  Royal River Alliance leaders filed commentary on the current status of FERC terms and conditions for the Bridge Street (Sparhawk) dam.

Town of Yarmouth correspondence to RRCT, and RRCT response (February 2017):  The Town Manager informed RRCT of ongoing interest by a hydropower developer, at Bridge Street (Sparhawk).

Friends of Casco Bay water quality monitoring (2017):  Friends of Casco Bay’s (FOCB’s) website includes recent water quality information in Yarmouth harbor, Cousins River, Cousins Island, and more. This FOCB 2017  summary page describes some of the specific data from Friends of Casco Bay testing on the Royal River estuary and Cousins River estuary, sites with water quality results of concern.

Watershed map — climate change focus areas (2017):  This map illustrates areas of the Royal River watershed — especially in Durham and Pownal, that The Nature Conservancy identifies as highly “resilient” for ecology in climate change scenarios.

Watershed map — conserved lands (2016):   This map illustrates all conserved lands in the watershed, key trails, and more.

Watershed map — why so muddy (2016):  This map illustrates the extent of “Presumpscot Clay” soils, which give the Royal River its characteristic chocolate brown siltation, a naturally occurring event irrespective of pollution or development.  The upper reaches of the watershed include spring-fed lakes and vast clean aquifers supporting Poland Spring, fish hatcheries, and clear bubbling trout streams.

Watershed map — fish passage (2016):  This map illustrates sea-run fishery restoration potential upriver in Pownal, New Gloucester, Freeport, and other towns, were Yarmouth’s dams to provide or maintain or restore effective fish passage.

Focus Area of Statewide Ecological Significance (2016):  The Royal River estuary, the Cousins River estuary, and broad sections of Casco Bay and its shoreline are part of a focus area of statewide ecological significance identified by Maine DIFW and others.

Maine Rivers Royal River Restoration Project (2016): Maine Rivers’ website includes many recent reports and press articles on sediment sampling, hydrofluvial geomorphology, dam alternatives, fisheries, and more.

Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (2016): CBEP has recently published Casco Bay Plan 2016-2021 with specific findings and recommendations following its 2015 State of the Bay report, focusing on a range of watershed, land protection, coastal, and land use issues.

A healthy Gulf of Maine goes with the flow of a restored Royal River.  Portland Press Herald, by Arthur Bell (Nov 2016)

Portland Press Herald article on Royal River pollutants, dams, hydropower, and fish passage (2016)

Fish Passage: Royal River Conservation Trust correspondence with Town of Yarmouth June 2016

Memorandum from Yarmouth Town Manager to Town Council (Feb 2016): This memorandum covers topics including hydropower, fish passage, and state and federal jurisdiction.

Royal River Conservation Trust correspondence with Town of Yarmouth Feb 2016 and 2015

Chandler Brook, River Herring Habitat Assessment (2015)

Cole Brook (Gray), Aquatic Life Classification Attainment Report (2015)

Hatchery Brook (Gray), Royal River (Gray), Libby Brook (Gray), Acquatic Life Classification Attainment Reports (2015)

Comparison of building setbacks in shoreland zoning ordinances in New Gloucester, North Yarmouth, Pownal, and Yarmouth (2015)

Royal River Fish Passage (Map, Dams, Catchments, Barriers) (2013)

Memorandum summarizing McKin Superfund Site history and status (2013)

Portland Press Herald opinion article by Royal River Conservation Trust (2013)

Town of Yarmouth Stormwater Management Plan (2013)

Royal River DEP Biological Monitoring Program Aquatic Life Classification Attainment Report (2012)

Royal River Estuary EPA Waterbody Quality Assessment report (2012)

USGS Simulation of Streamflow in the Royal River using watershed models (2010)

Town of Yarmouth’s Royal River Corridor Master Plan (2008)

Moose Brook in Auburn Watershed Survey (2007)

Royal River Conservation Plan, Royal River Conservation Trust (2005)

Article – Do the Rivers, Streams and Estuaries in Casco Bay Watershed Meet State Water Quality Standards (2005)

Libby Brook (Gray) Implementation Plan (2003)

Libby Brook (Gray) Watershed Survey Final Report (2002)

Recurrence Intervals for Historic Droughts, Royal River, 1950-2002

Royal River Watershed, Water Quality Monitoring Report, Friends of the Royal River, 1993-1999 (2001)

EPA Casco Bay – Royal River Watershed Fact Sheet (2000)

GPS location of Residential, Recreational, and Signficant Vegetation Areas (1999)

DEP memo on Royal River uses to McKin Superfund Site File (1999)

DEP handwritten notes re URR Observed River Uses (1998)

Royal River Watershed Water Quality Management Plan, CCSWCD (1998)

DEP Royal River Estuary Waste Load Allocation (DRAFT, 1996)

GPCOG Royal River Watershed Management Plan (DRAFT, 1991)

GPCOG Cousins River study, 1990

FERC and USFWS exemption memoranda, Old Sparhawk Mill (1984 and 1985)

Fisheries of the United States (1887, excerpts)

Laws of Maine, Royal River fish passage required (1834, transcribed)

Laws of Maine, Royal River fish passage required (1834, original text)