Rivers and Streams

Like lakes and ponds, Maine is blessed with an abundance of rivers and streams. The primary sources for all Maine rivers are the smaller brooks and streams, which often begin in the mountains. Fed by underground springs or from rain and melting snow, brooks and streams flow downhill, merge to become larger streams, and eventually all become rivers flowing to the sea. A variety of important aquatic animals and plants live along the entire course.

River waters have been harnessed to produce electricity, benefiting all Maine citizens. Our rivers have also been used as dumping sites for the refuse of industry and waterfront communites, taking a heavy toll on water quality. Over the years, extensive efforts have been made to clean up Maine rivers. Sewage treatment plants have been installed and upgraded. The amount of industrial wastewater has been reduced and is monitored. Dams have been fitted with fish ladders allowing salmon to return to their spawning grounds. In addition, businesses like canoeing and sport fishing have created a stream of tourist dollars to interior Maine. Maine rivers are cleaner now than they have been in generations, yet there is still work to be done.

  • Biomonitoring. The Biological Monitoring Program provides water quality information for a wide array of programs and initiatives.
  • Fish consumption advisories (off-site). The Bureau of Health is responsible for recommending the warnings on eating fish based on the presence of chemicals
  • Sustainable water use program (water use). The reporting program includes separate reporting thresholds for withdrawals from rivers, streams and brooks; lakes; and groundwater.
  • TMDLs and 305b/303d. The "303d" list identifies water quality limited waters within the state, causes and sources of nonattainment of standards, and a timetable for the development of TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) or other management processes to address attainment.