DEEP: Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV)

Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) Program
A Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program
{Pteronarcys species. Photo courtesy Jake Renkert.} {Psephenidae species. Photo courtesy Jake Renkert.} {Rhyacophila species. Photo courtesy Jake Renkert.}
About the Program
The Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers program (RBV) is a statewide volunteer water quality monitoring program coordinated by the CT DEEP Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse.  Each fall RBV volunteers participate in a ‘treasure hunt’ to find Connecticut’s healthiest streams. To accomplish this, RBV volunteers are trained to collect ‘macroinvertebrates,’ or ‘river bugs' from their local rivers and streams.  Depending on the types of macroinvertebrates that volunteers find in a stream, the CT DEEP can assess it as a healthy stream. 
Why become an RBV volunteer? RBV volunteers collect valuable environmental data that help ensure protection of the beautiful streams in their neighborhoods and backyards. Together, by documenting the location and condition of these streams, CT DEEP and volunteers can work to better protect and preserve them for generations to come.  If this sounds interesting, we would deeply appreciate your participation!

{RBV volunteers collect a macroinvertebrate sample with a kicknet.} {RBV volunteers work to sort and identify a macroinvertebrate sample in the field.}

Do Volunteers Need to have Previous Experience Monitoring Streams?

No, no prior monitoring experience is necessary. As an RBV volunteer you are trained by either CT DEEP staff or a Certified RBV Trainer to use benthic macroinvertebrates to screen local stream segments for excellent water quality.  We will teach you everything you need to know to do the program!

Where Can I Use the RBV Program?

RBV is meant to be used on streams or rivers that are believed to have excellent water quality.  RBV cannot provide a detailed water quality assessment nor can it be used to identify low or impaired water quality.  Monitoring sites are typically located on small, wadeable streams that flow year-round and are characterized by fast flowing, rocky habitat called “riffles.”  The photos below provide examples of suitable monitoring locations. 

{The Shepaug River in Washington, CT.} {Nod Brook in Avon, Connecticut.}

Annual RBV Program Summary Reports
Additional annual program summary reports for prior years may be obtained by visiting the Water Monitoring Program Reports and Publications webpage.)

Interactive RBV Story Map                

CT DEEP Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers Story Map
The RBV Story Map is a dynamic website that contains a variety of maps and photographs related to the RBV program.  Sections of the Story Map include:

  • an overview of the program, including a summary of what the RBV program is, why we use macroinvertebrates, and how we interpret our results,
  • a map displaying monitoring results to-date,
  • a map to help groups prioritize where to monitor next,
  • a series of maps showing where in CT the RBV 'Most Wanted' taxa have been found, and
  • a map to help new volunteers find the RBV group nearest to them. 

{A image of the RBV Story Map. The Story Map is a compilation of interactive, online maps related to the RBV Program.}

Quality Assurance Project Plan:

The RBV Program Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) outlines program procedures that will ensure the data collected by RBV volunteers are high enough to be utilized by the CT DEEP Monitoring and Assessment Program.  The most recent QAPP was approved by the U.S.E.P.A. on December 8, 2015.

{RBV volunteers recieve classroom-based training before going out into the field.} {RBV volunteers collect a macroinvertebrate sample from the Yantic River during training.} {RBV volunteers sort a macroinvertebrate sample on a picnic table.}

{RBV Field Identification Cards.} {A collection of RBV vouchers and completed datasheets.}


Ready to Get Involved? Contact Us! 

Volunteer with your local RBV program this fall!  To start a new local RBV program or to be put in touch with the RBV volunteer group nearest to you, contact the State RBV Program Coordinator: 

Meghan Lally
State RBV Coordinator
Water Monitoring and Assessment Program
CT DEEP Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse
Monitoring & Assessment Program
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
(860) 424-3061 

{Students from the Marvelwood School sort an RBV sample from Macedonia Brook in Kent, Connecticut.}

   Volunteer Water Monitoring   

Content last updated August 2017.