DEEP: River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV)

River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) Program

CT DEEP Tier 2 Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network

{Meg Ruta training volunteers at the Aspetuck River RBV Site.} About the Program:

RBV is a ‘treasure hunt’ during the fall (September through November) for Connecticut’s healthiest streams!  RBV volunteers monitor streams specifically for pollution sensitive macroinvertebrates. If volunteers are able to find four or more of these ‘Most Wanted’ macroinvertebrate types at an RBV location, it can provide DEEP with evidence to document the stream as having excellent water quality - making it one of Connecticut’s healthiest streams!
RBV is a volunteer water quality monitoring protocol developed and administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The RBV program provides volunteers with a relatively simple, yet standardized methodology for using aquatic macroinvertebrates to assess the relative water quality of wadeable streams. (Wadeable streams are those that you can walk across.)  Aquatic macroinvertebrates are excellent indicators of stream quality not only because they are relatively easy to collect and identify, but because certain species are very sensitive to changes in water quality. The most sensitive species can tolerate only very small amounts pollution and will therefore only be present in Connecticut’s healthiest streams, or those with the best water quality.   

Interested in Volunteering?

RBV volunteers are trained to study the aquatic life of a local stream system. Volunteers collect ‘macroinvertebrates,’ or ‘river bugs,’ which are then used by DEEP to identify streams with excellent water quality.  RBV volunteers collect valuable environmental data that help ensure protection of the beautiful streams in their neighborhoods and backyards. If this sounds interesting, we would deeply appreciate your participation!

Join a Local RBV Group in Your Area Today!           
Individual volunteers are encouraged to contact a local RBV group in your area. These {Volunteers monitoring the Mount Hope River RBV Site} organizations need additional hands to assist in their efforts!  New volunteers are required to attend a training session led by either the DEEP Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator or a Certified RBV trainer. If you need assistance locating the nearest RBV group in your region, please refer to the previous year's monitoring summary or contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator at 860-424-3061 or

No Group in Your Area? Establish a New RBV Group!
Groups or organizations located in an area without an existing RBV program may be eligible to start a new RBV program. New groups are trained by the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator during a two-year mentorship period. During the mentorship period the Coordinator will help assist with site selection, volunteer training, and equipment loans. After the conclusion of two successful RBV seasons, local coordinators are certified by the Coordinator as an official RBV Trainer and Local RBV Program Coordinator.  New programs are established on a first come-first served basis, and require access to sites suitable for RBV monitoring.  Contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator at 860-424-3061 or to learn more.

For More Information about the CT DEEP RBV Program contact:
Meghan Ruta
CT DEEP Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse
Monitoring & Assessment Program
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127 {Five volunteers sampling the Bantam River RBV Site}
(860) 424-3061 

Program Materials:                                                 

2013 Summary of Volunteer Monitoring (PDF)

2012 Summary of Volunteer Monitoring (PDF)

2011 Summary of Volunteer Monitoring (PDF)

2010 Summary of Volunteer Monitoring (PDF)
(Note: Summaries for prior years may be obtained by contacting Meghan Ruta at (860) 424-3061 or

Volunteer Training Presentation: Accompanying Presentation (PDF)

Sample Volunteer Training Agenda (DOC) - This one page document is intended to serve as an example agenda for Certified RBV Trainers planning to conduct a new RBV volunteer training workshop.  Please contact the RBV Program Coordinator prior to scheduling volunteer trainings to discuss training requirements.
Sample Volunteer Training Sign-In Sheet (XLS) - This one page document is intended to serve as an example agenda for Certified RBV Trainers planning to conduct a new RBV volunteer training workshop.  Please contact the RBV Program Coordinator prior to scheduling volunteer trainings to discuss training requirements.

CT DEEP Photo Authorization & Release Form.  This form authorizes DEEP to use photographs of the volunteers in the annual summary report as well as in training and promotional materials related to the RBV program.

{Down stream view of the Deep Brook RBV Site.}      {Two volunteers at the bridge over the Pease Brook RBV Site.}     {Two volunteers sampling the North Kent Brook RBV Site.}

RBV Equipment List (PDF) – This one page equipment list outlines CT DEEP’s requirements for equipment used to conduct RBV monitoring programs.  This equipment list was developed in accordance with the RBV Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) and should be closely adhered to by all participating RBV groups to insure data quality.

 RBV Volunteer Field Reference Guide (PDF) - This one page volunteer handout serves as a quick reference guide for volunteers conducting an RBV monitoring event; the sheet overviews the main steps the volunteers are required to complete when monitoring a stream site.  (Note: This guide is not intended to replace the annual volunteer training presentation and activities required of all volunteers.)

RBV Site Photograph Instructions (PDF) – These instructions provide guidance for using a digital camera to document the instream and riparian conditions of an RBV site as well as the immediate upstream and downstream area.  RBV Coordinators are responsible for submitting digital site photographs for each RBV site monitored.  Site photographs are important data which document the physical conditions of the RBV site on the day that the monitoring event was conducted, providing greater insight into RBV results.

    {Looking downstream at the Battleswamp Brook RBV Site in the Housatonic River watershed.}          {Looking upstream at the Moodus River RBV Site.}

Data sheet (PDF) - This is the official data sheet for the RBV protocol. Datasheets should be submitted along with macroinvertebrate vouchers to Meghan Ruta, WPLR Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT, 06106-5127

Voucher Labels (PDF) – This one page document contains the official labels that should be used when preparing RBV voucher specimens.  A label must be completed in pencil and placed inside the voucher container before submitting to DEEP.  (A second label can also be taped to the outside of the container if desired.)  The voucher label for each site should match the top of the datasheet for that site.  DEEP cannot accept voucher specimens that are improperly labeled.

Macroinvertebrate Sorting Guide (PDF) - This 1 page flow chart will assist volunteer monitors in narrowing their macroinvertebrate identification choice. The flow chart is not designed to be a comprehensive key for macroinvertebrates. The chart should be used for preliminary sorting and grouping when implementing the RBV protocol.

Macroinvertebrate Field Identification Cards (PDF) - At the core of the RBV program are the macroinvertebrates represented on these cards. Each organism has distinct shape, structure, color, or behavior and provides key ecological information about the stream environment. Each card lists the common name across the top and the category at the bottom. These bands are color-coded based on the ecology of each organism.

  • Blue = Most Wanted. In general these organisms require a narrow range of environmental conditions. When found in abundance one can infer non-impaired stream condition. 
  • Yellow = Moderately Wanted. These organisms can be found in a variety of water quality conditions. When found in abundance further information about the upstream watershed may be necessary to infer water quality. 
  • Red = Least Wanted. These organisms tend to be very tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions. As a result when these organisms comprise the majority of a sample, one can infer some level of water quality impairment.

Quality Assurance Project Plan (PDF)- A Quality Assurance Project Plan is a document that provides a plan to insure data collected for a specific project will meet a particular standard.  A QAPP is required for any water quality monitoring program that receives funding through EPA.  

Volunteer Monitoring

Content last updated March 26, 2015