Text Box: RAPID BIOASSESSMENT IN WADEABLE 
STREAMS & RIVERS
BY VOLUNTEER MONITORS

2004 SUMMARY REPORT


Text Box: State of Connecticut
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Water Management
Gina McCarthy, Commissioner

The Rapid Bioassessment in Wadeable Streams and Rivers by Volunteer Monitors program (RBV) is a macroinvertebrate collection protocol developed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Management, Ambient Monitoring Program (herein referred to as DEP).  The goal of RBV is to provide volunteer monitoring programs with a quick, efficient, and standardized methodology for the collection of macroinvertebrate community data from wadeable streams.  This data can be used to screen for either very high or very low water quality and augment monitoring conducted by DEP.  All support materials including more detailed description of the program, the RBV methodology, data sheets, sorting guides, macroinvertebrate cards, and annual summary reports are available on the DEP web page (http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/volunmon/volopp.htm). To obtain additional information about RBV or to become involved, please contact Mike Beauchene, volunteer monitoring coordinator, by phone (860) 424-4185 or email mike.beauchene@po.state.ct.us

 

Number of monitoring locations (Appendix A)

54

Number of waterbodies monitored

43

Number of individual participants

232

Number of groups

20

Number of groups participating for the first time

10

Number of returning groups

10

 

 

2004 PARTICIPATION

 STATISTICS:

 

 

 

The DEP would like to thank the following groups: Connecticut Audubon Society (Glastonbury and Pomfret), Connecticut River Watch (Bolton Conservation Commission, Eightmile River Watershed and Hockanum River Watershed Associations), Connecticut Fly Fisherman's Association, Enfield Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commissions, Farmington River Watershed Association, Housatonic Valley Association, Manchester Community Technical College Science Club, Mansfield Girl Scout Troop 5284, Nature Conservancy-Devils Den, Salmon Brook Watershed Association, Stafford River Watchers, Trout Unlimited-Thames Chapter, UCONN soil and water conservation society, and Willington Conservation Commission.  In addition the following individuals submitted RBV data independent of a formal organization, Alex and Cody Lorentson, Jane Seymour, and Carrie and David Sinish.  

The RBV Method:  The RBV protocol includes 26 macroinvertebrate taxa, each with distinct shape, structure, color, or behavior (Appendix B).  Detailed information about each organism can be found on the field identification cards.  The cards are available on the DEP web page at (http://dep.state.ct.us/wtr/volunmon/rbvcards.pdf).  Each of these organisms has been placed into 1 of 3 categories most wanted (cards 1-8), moderately wanted (cards 9-14), and least wanted (card 15).  The most wanted category consists of macroinvertebrates typically found in streams characterized by outstanding water quality.  The moderately wanted category consists of those found in a range of conditions from outstanding to good water quality.  The least wanted category consists of those found in all types of water quality conditions, from outstanding to poor.  The name of each of the 3 qualitative categories is intended to characterize water quality and is not intended to imply that those in the least wanted category are harmful or result in nuisance conditions.  No organism included in the RBV protocol has higher or lower ecological value than any other.  The list was developed based on the following 3 criteria; statewide distribution, provides key information about the river system, and has a unique behavior or morphological characteristic easily observed by first time participants.

The RBV process:  The RBV method is based upon the Rapid Bioassessment Protocols developed by the US EPA and implemented by DEP ambient monitoring staff (Plafkin et al 1989).  The RBV protocol requires that the participants sample the macroinvertebrate community from a stream riffle habitat and produce a voucher collection accompanied by a data sheet (Appendix B).  A voucher collection is produced by placing at least one specimen of each type of organism collected into a leak-proof container with a descriptive label and isopropyl alcohol. The data sheet documents the different organisms present at the site as well as the relative abundance of each in the sample.  Both the voucher sample and the data sheet are submitted to the DEP.  The contents of the vial are verified against the field data sheet and then entered into a Microsoft Access database.  It is important to note that the final data for the sample is based upon the voucher collection and not what has been recorded on the data sheet.  If an organism is listed on the data sheet but not present in the voucher collection, it does not count.

 

 

 

The RBV protocol occurs annually in the fall and takes approximately 2 hours to complete at the monitoring site. Prior to collecting the macroinvertebrates most participants attended a 3-hour training session in which the DEP volunteer monitoring coordinator describes the program and introduces the participants to the RBV methodology.  The DEP has 20 sets of equipment available for short-term loan to participants.  Those groups that have participated for at least 2 years and feel confident with the methodology may opt to forgo the official DEP training session and simply borrow the equipment.

 

RBV data use:  Data collected according to the RBV protocol can be used as a screening tool to identify stream sections with either very high or very low water quality.  The documentation (voucher collection) of key indicator organisms (the most wanted) in a section of a stream provides a record of the benthic community present for a collection date and time. However, the absence of such indicators in any sample does not automatically mean the water quality is low, but rather further information may be required.  In some situations current DEP protocol may be necessary to definitively assess water quality.  It is important to note that the "least wanted" are able to thrive in many environmental conditions while the "most wanted" thrive only under conditions of low environmental stress.  Therefore the most definitive RBV data are the collections with good representation of organisms in the "most wanted" category. 

For those samples with > 5 types of organisms in the "most wanted" category the DEP monitoring staff are confident the location fully supports the state water quality standard for aquatic life (CT WQS 1997).  Samples with < 4 types in the "most wanted" category do not definitively indicate impairment or water quality degradation.  In these situations additional review is conducted by DEP to determine the particular species present, land use characteristics upstream of the monitoring location, and the potential for sampling/methodology errors.  The RBV samples collected during fall 2004 that had at least 5 most wanted types present in the voucher collection were:  Beaver Brook-Lyme (26-005), East Branch Salmon Brook-Granby (24-002), and 2 sites on the Saugatuck River-Westport (48-001) & Weston (48-002).  The following figure represents the number of most wanted types present in each of the 54 samples collected during fall 2004.

 

The primary use of macroinvertebrate data by the DEP is to compare the community structure to narrative biological criteria described in the current water quality standards.  This process is described in the Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (CT CALM 2004).  This comparison can provide an assessment of the degree of impairment and therefore the degree to which water quality standards are supported (CT 305(b) 2004).  The figure below represents the aquatic life use support assessments reported in the 2004 Water Quality Report to Congress (CT 305(b) 2004).  Additional information regarding CALM and the 305(b) report can be found on the DEP web site and links are provided at the end of this report.

RBV 2004 Sample Results:  Fifty-four samples were collected during the fall of 2004 (Appendix A).  The table on the following page lists each RBV organism that was present in each of the voucher collections submitted to DEP.  The entries in the table are sorted from greatest number of "most wanted" types to least.  Each row is a sample as described by the stream name, collection date, basin id and site number.  The panel number at the top of each column in the table corresponds to the panel number on the RBV datasheet and RBV identification materials. Panels 1-8 are in the most wanted category, 9-14 in the moderately wanted category, and those in panel 15 are in the least wanted category.  Panel numbers 5,6,8,13,and 15 each have more than 1 type of organism, therefore, samples with a number >1 for a panel represents the number of different types collected.  The range of most wanted types in 2004 samples was from 5 (four samples) to 0 (2 samples). 

The types of organisms present in each of the 54 voucher collections submitted to DEP during fall 2004.

RBV Sample Composition:  The pie charts on the map below represent the contribution of the total number of each of the types in each of the 3 RBV categories.  In general high quality sites should have nearly equal representation of most (blue) and moderately (yellow) wanted categories and some representation of least wanted (red).  As the amount of most (blue) is replaced by moderate (yellow) and least (red) water quality may be limiting.  The average percent contribution for the 54 samples collected during fall 2004 was 31% most, 55% moderate, and 14% least wanted.

RBV limitations:  The RBV method was developed to be a simple, non-technical, and enjoyable method for use by citizens interested in evaluating the water quality of a local resource while concurrently generating useful information for the DEP. To date the program has been successful at meeting both objectives.  However, to accomplish these, the RBV method requires the participant preserve at least one of each different type of organism present.  The final list of organisms in a sample is based on DEP review of the datasheet against the organisms present in the voucher collection.  If the organism is not in the voucher but recorded on the datasheet, it is not counted as part of the sample, even if the organism was actually present.  Successful implementation of the RBV method is dependant upon an adequate collection of a sample from a riffle habitat, sorting organisms to find all of the different types present, and most importantly placing 1of each into a leak-proof container with alcohol and a label.  It is not dependant upon accurate identification by the participant.  Any variable (site selection, incomplete collection, high stream flow, inclement weather conditions, nuisance insects, rushed time constraints, or rotted/desiccated voucher specimens) that reduces the quality or completeness of any step in the RBV method may ultimately reduce the number of different types found.  As a result, errors made will tend to underestimate the macroinvertebrate community present and may overestimate water quality degradation.  To insure that each organism present at a site is documented, it is critical that at least one of each different type of organism is placed in the voucher collection. In most situations current DEP protocol will be necessary to definitively assess water quality. 

 

TO BECOME INVOLVED

RBV TRAINING:  A daylong training/data collection workshop can be held for your organization free of charge*.  The workshop is structured around instructional power-point presentations in the morning and data collection in the afternoon. 

           

The data collection process is completed on site at a riffle (fast flowing rocky bottom).  Participants wade into the water, dislodge the organisms into a net by scrubbing the rocks, sort and identify the different organisms present, and preserve a representative set of organisms for verification.  At the completion of the session the data is submitted to the CT DEP for incorporation into water quality assessments.

 

RBV workshops are scheduled on a first come first serve basis with priority for first time programs.  Since the data collection occurs in the fall and there are a fixed number of weekend days, it is better to schedule well in advance.  Every attempt will be made to accommodate each workshop request. The CT DEP will provide all of the necessary equipment except for waders, hip boots or other waterproof foot ware.

 

TO BECOME INVOLVED*: 

The prerequisites to sponsor a workshop are to:

1.)                Assemble a group of a least 6 adults

2.)                Reserve a meeting room centrally located to the potential monitoring stations. The room must have electricity and be capable of holding all of the participants.

3.)                Contact Mike Beauchene to schedule a workshop date by phone (860) 424-4185 or email at mike.Beauchene@po.state.ct.us

 

*Individuals not associated with a monitoring program can be linked with a program in their local area.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

CT 305(b) 2004. 2004 Water Quality Report To Congress.  Bureau of Water Management, Planning and Standards Division, Hartford, CT. http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/wq/305b/305b_index.htm

 

CT CALM 2004. Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology for 305(b) and 303(d) Reporting.  Bureau of Water Management, Planning and Standards Division, Hartford, CT. http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/wq/calm/calm.htm

 

CT WQS 1997. Water Quality Standards.  Bureau of Water Management, Planning and Standards Division, Hartford, CT. http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/wq/wqsinfo.htm

 

Plafkin, J.L., M.T. Barbour, K.D. Porter, S.K. Gross, and R.M. Hughes. 1989. Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for use in Streams and Rivers: Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Fish. EPA/444/4-89-00. http://www.epa.gov/owow/monitoring/rbp/

 

 

Additional links with relevant information

 

CT DEP Bureau of Water Management: http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/index.htm

 

CT DEP Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring: http://www.dep.state.ct.us/wtr/volunmon/volopp.htm

 

 

USEPA volunteer monitoring: http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/monitoring/vol.html

 

USEPA biological monitoring: http://www.epa.gov/bioindicators/html/invertebrate.html

 

USGS water resources data for Connecticut: http://ct.water.usgs.gov/


Appendix A.  The following provides a description of the location where an RBV sample was collected during the fall of 2004.

RBV participant

Site number

Waterbody

Basin id

Proximity

Landmark

Municipality

Bolton Conservation Commission

35-002

Blackledge River

4707

500 downstream

Deming Road

Bolton

Bolton Conservation Commission

35-003

French Brook

4707

at

French Road

Bolton

CT Audubon- Glastonbury

28-002

Roaring Brook

4009

upstream

Route 17

Glastonbury

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-004

Natchaug River

3200

at

Route 198 entrance to Natchaug SF

Eastford

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-005

Mashamoquet Brook

3710

500 meters downstream

Route 44 in State Park

Pomfret

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-006

Mashamoquet Brook

3710

end

paved section of road in state park

Pomfret

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-007

French River

3300

at

Main Street (Red Bridge Road)

Thompson

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-008

Bungee Brook

3201

downstream

Mill Bridge Road

Eastford

CT Audubon-Pomfret

21-009

Still River

3202

behind

Post Office at eastford center

Eastford

Cody and Alex Lorentson

40-001

Pocotopaug Creek

4709

50 m upstream

Route 16

East Hampton

Connecticut Fly Fishermans Association

42-001

Willimantic River

3100

upstream

Roaring Brook Confluence

Willington

Connecticut Fly Fishermans Association

42-002

Willimantic River

3100

behind

I-84 Rest Stop at exits 69-70 West bound

Willington

David and Carrie Sinish

46-001

Rattlesnake Brook

4300

upstream

200 meters from Dyer Ave.

Canton

Eightmile River Association

26-005

Beaver Brook

4803

Downstream

bridge at 55-123 Beaver Brook Road

Lyme

Eightmile River Association

26-006

Harris Brook

4801

at

Mouth

Salem

Eightmile River Association

26-007

Tributary to Eight Mile River

4800

at

trail crossing off MacIntosh Road

Lyme

Eightmile River Association

26-008

Burhams Brook

4800

at

Mouth

East Haddam

Enfield Conservation Commission

36-001

Scantic River

4200

downstream 100 meters

South Maple Street

Enfield

Enfield Conservation Commission

36-002

Terry Brook

4200

Downstream footbridge

Green manor Park

Enfield

Enfield Conservation Commission

36-003

Scantic River

4200

downstream

Route 83 at state line

Somers

Farmington River Watershed Association

7-001

Nod Brook

4317

DS

Route 10

Avon

Farmington River Watershed Association

7-003

Ratlum Brook

4308

downstream

Farmington River Turnpyke at mouth

New Hartford

Farmington River Watershed Association

7-004

Morgan Brook

4305

downstream

East West Hill Road ADJ to Rte 44

Barkhamsted

Farmington River Watershed Association

7-005

Morgan Brook

4305

downstream

Morgan Brook Road

Barkhamsted

Farmington River Watershed Association

7-006

Cherry Brook

4309

upstream

Route 44

Canton

Hockanum River Watershed Association

32-001

Tankerhoosen River

4503

DS

Bolton Road

Vernon

Hockanum River Watershed Association

32-002

Tankerhoosen River

4503

upstream

Tunnel Road

Vernon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RBV participant

site number

Waterbody

Basin id

Proximity

Landmark

Municipality

Hockanum River Watershed Association

32-004

Tankerhoosen River

4503

upstream 100 m

mouth at golf land

Vernon

Hockanum River Watershed Association

32-006

Gages Brook

4503

at

footbridge on Tolland Agricultural Center Property

Tolland

Housatonic Valley Association

9-001

Little Pootatuck Brook

6000

adjacent

Flat Hill Road near River Road

Southbury

Housatonic Valley Association

9-002

Lee Brook

6000

at

Lakemere Road

Southbury

Housatonic Valley Association

9-003

Kettletown Brook

6021

at

Mouth

Southbury

Housatonic Valley Association

9-004

Clatter Valley Brook

6000

at

Stone Bridge in Clatter Valley Park

Bridgewater

Housatonic Valley Association

9-005

Hitchcock Mill Brook

6000

at

Sunny Valley Preserve Bridge near camp silverman

Bridgewater

Housatonic Valley Association

9-006

Town Farm Brook

6000

at

Darwin Hill Road

New Milford

Housatonic Valley Association

9-007

Pond Brook

6000

at

Bridge at State Boat Launch

Newtown

Housatonic Valley Association

9-008

Hop Brook

6000

at

Barkwood Hill Road and Hop Brook Road

Brookfield

Jane Seymour

47-001

Tankerhoosen River

4503

upstream

Fish and Game Road and tributary

Vernon

Jane Seymour

47-002

Barrows Brook

4503

upstream

Confluence with Tankerhoosen

Vernon

Jane Seymour

47-003

Tributary to Gages Brook

4503

between

Rte 84 and confluence with Gages Brook

Tolland

Mansfield Girl Scout Troop 5284

44-001

Roaring Brook

3104

upstream

Polister Road

Willington

MCTC Science and Technology Club

20-002

Hockanum River

4500

behind

Adams Mill Restaurant

Manchester

MCTC Science and Technology Club

20-002

Hockanum River

4500

behind

Adams Mill Restaurant

Manchester

Salmon Brook Watershed Association

24-001

West Branch Salmon Brook

4319

Adjacent

Salmon Brook Park

Granby

Salmon Brook Watershed Association

24-002

East Branch Salmon Brook

4320

Downstream

Route 20

Granby

Stafford River Watchers

45-001

Willimantic River

3100

upstream

Route 32

Ellington

The Nature Conservancy-Devils Den

48-001

Saugatuck River

7200

at

DS end of Fly Fishing Only Area (1 Ford Rd)

Westport

The Nature Conservancy-Devils Den

48-002

Saugatuck River

7200

at

Keene Park Parking Lot

Weston

The Nature Conservancy-Devils Den

48-003

West Branch Saugatuck River

7203

at

Glendenning Parking Lot

Westport

The Nature Conservancy-Devils Den

48-004

Aspetuck River

7202

Upstream

Confluence with Saugatuck River at Lyons Plain Rd

Westport

Trout Unlimited-Thames Chapter

43-001

Yantic River

3900

upstream

Stanton Road

Bozrah

Trout Unlimited-Thames Chapter

43-002

Yantic River

3900

upstream

Stockhouse Road adjacent to Bozrah Cemetary

Bozrah

Trout Unlimited-Thames Chapter

43-003

Pease Brook

3905

upstream

150 meters from confluence with Yantic River

Bozrah

UCONN Soil and Water Conservation Club

38-001

Knowlton Brook

3205

downstream

Upton Road

Ashford

Willington Conservation Commission

41-001

Roaring Brook

3104

downstream

Ruby Lake outlet

Willington

 


Appendix B:  The RBV datasheet.