DEEP: Volunteer Opportunity for Citizens to Monitor Wadeable Streams and Rivers

Volunteer/Citizen Science
Water Monitoring Opportunities

{RBV volunteers} {RBV volunteers} {RBV volunteers} {RBV volunteers}

Overview: DEEP's Three-Tiered Approach to Volunteer Monitoring

Connecticut is fortunate to be a water-rich state.  We have thousands of miles of rivers and streams, hundreds of lakes and ponds, and of course, the magnificent Long Island Sound.  CT DEEP encourages groups and individuals interested in helping to conserve and protect our water resources to become volunteer water monitors.

The document titled "A Tiered Approach for Citizen-Based Monitoring of Wadeable Streams and Rivers" (PDF, 820K) outlines CT DEEP's three-tiered approach to volunteer water quality monitoring.  The three-tiered approach allows for participation by volunteers having a wide range of skills and interest levels. 

The most basic level of volunteer monitoring is Tier 1 monitoring.  Tier 1 programs typically entail volunteers contributing observational data such as photographs or written descriptions to document stream conditions. This information is particularly useful when reporting a suspected issue to DEEP, such as unusual water color or very low flow levels.  Little to no training, equipment or commitment are needed to monitor at the Tier 1 level.

{An example observational photo.} {An example observational photo.} {An example observational photo.} {An example observational photo.}

Tier 2 monitoring consists of slightly more advanced monitoring, although no prior training or experience is expected.  Presently, CT DEEP coordinates several statewide Tier 2 programs for volunteers interested in conducting water monitoring.  The CT DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Program Coordinator provides new volunteers with training and equipment.  Volunteers are expected to follow DEEP protocols and submit their data to the State at the conclusion of the monitoring period. See the "Current Monitoring Opportunities" section below to learn more.

{A pair of water temperature loggers.} {A display of RBV vouchers and datasheets.} {An individual conducts a water chemistry test. Photo courtesy of the Farmington River Watershed Association.}

Finally, more advanced volunteer groups, typically those with paid staff members or individuals with advanced scientific training and expertise (e.g. professional scientists) can work with CT DEEP staff to outline a Tier 3 monitoring program for their town or watershed.  Tier 3 programs consists of watershed or waterbody-specific intensive monitoring plans, such as bacteria track-down studies or nutrient loading assessments.  DEEP staff support and funding may be available to support Tier 3 programs.  Contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator to learn more if interested.

Current Monitoring Opportunities

River/Stream Monitoring

Connecticut has approximately 5,800 miles of perennial rivers and streams.  For perspective, this distance is roughly equal to the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders combined! We need your help to monitor these important waterbodies! CT DEEP currently coordinates two programs for volunteers interested in monitoring streams and rivers in their towns or watersheds:

  • River/Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) - RBV volunteers are trained to study aquatic macroinvertebrates in order to document Connecticutís healthiest streams.  Monitoring typically occurs September through November annually.
  • Volunteer Stream Temperature Monitoring (V-STeM) Network - V-STeM Network volunteers are trained to use data loggers to monitor stream temperature at one or more locations in their town or watershed. Monitoring occurs year-round with the bulk of field work completed in the spring (April/May) and fall (September/October).  Contact the DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator to learn more.
{Student volunteers collect water samples.} {A volunteer documents the location of a temperature logger.} {RBV volunteers work to sort a sample.}

Lake/Pond Monitoring

CT DEEP does not offer a coordinated statewide volunteer lake monitoring program at this time.  However, lake associations and groups currently conducting monitoring are encouraged to submit their data to the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator.  Data will shared with the appropriate staff within DEEP and may be used to help support water quality assessments, water management decisions, and more.  CT DEEP has limited resources to provide training support and technical guidance, and potentially funding, to individuals or groups looking to establish new lake/pond monitoring programs.  Contact the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator to learn more.

{Bashan Lake} {Lake Beseck}

Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference

In 2014, the CT DEEP Monitoring Group co-chaired the first Connecticut Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference at Goodwin College in East Hartford, CT.  A second conference was held in 2019 at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, CT.  Both conferences sought to bring together the volunteer water monitoring community in Connecticut, highlight the success of current programs, provide information about issues of emerging concern, and provide training for groups looking to expand their monitoring programs. 

It is the vision of the Monitoring Group to host a conference every five years, with the next conference slated to occur in 2024 in western CT; if you are interested in hosting, please contact the Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator!

2014 Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference (July 25, 2014 - Goodwin College)

2019 Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference (April 5, 2019 - Three Rivers Community College)


Additional Resources

The DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator
If you or your group are interested in becoming volunteer water monitors for the State of Connecticut, please contact the DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator.  The Coordinator will work with you to determine which volunteer monitoring option best matches your groupís interest and skill level.  The Coordinator is available to provide monitoring training and technical assistance to volunteer monitoring groups on a limited basis.

{Meghan Lally, CT DEEP Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator}   

Meghan Lally
Volunteer Water Monitoring Coordinator
Monitoring and Assessment Program 
CT Department of Energy &
Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106


Water Monitoring Program

Content last updated April 2019.