Stream with riffle    photo Ct DEP

Stream with riffle photo CT DEP




The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has been directed to develop standards to protect the nearly 4,000 lakes and ponds, nearly 6,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 200 miles of coastline along Long Island Sound.  DEPs new Stream Flow Standards and Regulations are meant to promote better, more efficient management of our water resources and supplies.

Good water quality is essential for life.  It is well documented that increases in impervious surfaces, roads, parking lots, roof tops and so on that occur with urban growth are directly related to increases in the amount of storm water runoff which is responsible for decreasing the quality of water in our streams, rivers, wetlands and wells.   Urbanization increases impervious surfaces, which by definition are unable to allow pollutants carried in storm water to percolate and filter through soil.  Runoff water conveys these storm water pollutants into streams and waterways.  Urbanization in Connecticut is detrimental to the ecology of many of our rivers and streams.

One determinant of water quality is the ecological assessment of a water body. Connecticut’s approximately 5,484 miles of rivers and perennial streams are monitored and their quality assessed by staff assigned to the CT DEP’s Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse, Planning and Standards Division (WPLR).


Photo CT DEP

Photo CT DEP



Monitoring thousands of miles of rivers and streams is a huge undertaking.  In 1999 CT DEP developed a volunteer based Rapid Bioassessment in Wadeable Streams and Rivers program (RBV) as a citizen based screening tool to assist them in identifying high quality streams.  Through this program stream quality is assessed by the presence or absence of aquatic macro-invertebrates, in particular riffle-dwelling benthic macro-invertebrate communities. A riffle: is a section of a stream or river characterized by rapid turbulent flow, a stable rocky substrate, and is wadeable most of the year. Benthic refers to living in or on the substrate (bottom) of an aquatic environment. Macro- invertebrate are animals without a backbone that are large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. The macro-invertebrate community in a stream or river is very sensitive to stress and thus its characteristics serve as a useful tool for detecting environmental disturbance resulting from introduced pollution.

Benthic macro- invertebrate

More information can be found at


Specimen collection Bolton stream November 7, 2010

In late October the UConn Master Gardener Program sponsored a training session on Rapid Bioassessment in Streams at the Tolland County Extension Center.  The class was taught by DEP’s Michael Beauchene who designed the program.  In early November class participants carried out assessment of four streams in Bolton CT.  Master Gardeners Deb and Ron Beaudoin sponsored the stream collection part of the program. They have been running these assessments with the Bolton Conservation Commission since the late 1990s.  The bio-assessment field study was attended by twenty participants fourteen of them were UConn Master Gardeners.  The groups split up into teams and went out to the streams for collection.  After sorting their finds following DEP’s protocol, reports which include a data sheet and vials of voucher organisms were sent to DEP.

Master Gardeners and other interested citizens can participate in these studies. The UConn Master Gardener Program will sponsor more classes next fall.  If you are interested in participating in future training classes please contact my office, the Master Gardener Coordinator in your nearest County Extension office or at the Bartlett Arboretum.

Specimens photo CT DEP

Sorting specimens RBV class

Sorting specimens RBV class