DEEP: River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV)

River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) Program

CT DEEP Tier 2 Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network

About the Program:
RBV is a citizen-based water quality-monitoring program developed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's (DEEP) ambient monitoring program. The RBV program is a standardized screening method that keeps the equipment, expertise, and time commitment to a minimum while simultaneously identifying sections of streams with pollution sensitive organisms. In some instances, more formal DEEP methods may be required to provide a definitive water quality assessment.

The entire RBV process is completed at the stream and usually takes 2-3 hours. The final product is a completed RBV data sheet and a voucher collection (one of each type of organism observed). RBV training is available free of charge for groups of 6 or more adults.

For additional information, please contact Meghan Ruta, Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator, at (860) 424-3061 or

Interested in Volunteering?

Individuals can contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator to be put in touch with a participating local RBV group in your area.  Groups interested in establishing a new local RBV program in Connecticut should contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator to determine whether RBV is right for your watershed. 

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

Program Description and Instructions (PDF, 1362K) - This document describes the River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) program and provides step by step instructions for the RBV protocol.

Instructions: Accompanying Presentation (PDF, 8292K)

RBV Equipment List (PDF) Ė This one page equipment list outlines CT DEEPís 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 Site Photograph Instructions (PDF) Ė 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.

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) Ė 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, 972K) - 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 4, 2014