DEEP: River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV)

Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) Program

A CT DEEP Tier 2 Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network

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

 The Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers program (RBV) is a volunteer water quality monitoring protocol developed and administered by the CT DEEP Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse.  Each fall (September through November) RBV volunteers participate in a ‘treasure hunt’ to find Connecticut’s healthiest streams. 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.

Do Volunteers Need to have Previous Experience Monitoring Streams? 

No prior monitoring experience is necessary. As an RBV volunteer you are trained to use benthic macroinvertebrates to screen local stream segments for excellent water quality.

Where Can I Use the RBV Program? 

RBV is designed for use on small, wadeable streams that flow year-round and are characterized by fast flowing, rocky habitat called “riffles.”  RBV is a screening approach or a ‘treasure hunt’ for the State’s healthiest streams; if volunteers find four or more pollution sensitive taxa it is evidence of very high water quality.  RBV cannot provide a detailed water quality assessment nor can it be used to identify low or impaired water quality.

Interested in Volunteering? {Volunteers monitoring the Mount Hope River RBV Site}

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!

{Five volunteers sampling the Bantam River RBV Site}




   Ready to Get Involved? 

Volunteer with your local RBV program this fall!  To be put in touch with the RBV volunteer group nearest to you, contact the State RBV Program Coordinator.  Volunteer groups of 5 or  more may be eligible to start a new RBV program in their area.


For More Information about the CT DEEP RBV Program contact:
Meghan Lally
State RBV Coordinator 
CT DEEP Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse
Monitoring & Assessment Program
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127                      
(860) 424-3061                 {RBV Interactive map}

 Interactive Maps:                

2014 RBV Monitoring Locations and Results
 (Best viewed in Google Chrome)   

Program Materials:       

Annual Program Summary Reports:       

2015 RBV Program Summary Report  (PDF)

2014 RBV Program Summary Report  (PDF)

2013 RBV Program Summary Report  (PDF)

2012 RBV Program Summary Report (PDF)

2011 RBV Program Summary Report (PDF)

2010 RBV Program Summary Report (PDF)
(Note: Summaries for prior years may be obtained by contacting Meghan Lally at (860) 424-3061 or

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.  Local RBV Coordinators are responsible for submitting digital site photographs for each RBV site monitored to the State RBV Coordinator.  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 Lally, State RBV Coordinator, CTDEEP Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse, 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.

  • {Body Builder Mayfly Panel 1 identification card} Blue = Most Wanted. In general these organisms require a narrow range of environmental conditions, or are "most sensitive" to pollution. Because these "Most Wanted" taxa can only survive in clean, healthy stream systems, and when found in abundance one can infer non-impaired stream conditions. 
  • Yellow = Moderately Wanted. These organisms can be found in a variety of water quality conditions, or are "moderately sensitive" to pollution.  
  • Red = Least Wanted. These organisms tend to be very tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions.  
Quality Assurance Project Plans:
  • Quality Assurance Project Plan (PDF) - 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 & Assessement Program. Approved by the U.S.E.P.A. on 12/08/2015.

Volunteer Monitoring

Content last updated April 29, 2016.