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Studying Important Little River Creatures: Our 10th Annual Macroinvertebrate Survery

This fall, the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition celebrated the tenth anniversary of its annual Macroinvertebrate Survey to collect, identify and catalogue tiny, river-dwelling creatures as a measure of stream health.

In addition to the annual survey, which is part of a statewide effort lead by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), PRWC teamed up with Aububon Center at Bent of the River to offer a special exploratory program for kids this year.

“We were excited to welcome younger children this year,” said Carol Haskins, PRWC Outreach Director. “It is so important to cultivate an appreciation of nature at a young age and we hope their participation helps foster future stewardship of our shared water resources.”

There was a great turn out for both the Macroinvertebrate Survey and the “Getting Buggy for Kids” programs at the Woodbury Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday September 19th. Survey volunteers began the day by learning about macroinvertebrates, why they are collected, and how to collect them following procedures established by CT DEEP for the statewide Rapid Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) program. Then they ventured out to survey small streams and brooks throughout the Pomperaug Watershed and identify what was collected. Families with younger children got to see the survey in action, enjoy a walk to the river to collect and learn about these tiny creatures, and build their own “crafty” bug.

According to Meghan Lally, Environmental Analyst and Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator with DEEP’s Monitoring and Assessment Program, “The RBV program’s approach allows volunteers to have the greatest impact in protecting Connecticut’s water resources. In [DEEP’s] efforts to restore degraded waters, it has not had a chance to monitor many of high quality, small streams. These precious waterbodies provide the cool, clean water needed to sustain sensitive populations of fish and other critters, they fill our drinking reservoirs, and, well, they are just plain pretty! Unfortunately, they are also the most vulnerable to the threat of development and degradation. We cannot protect what we don't know about - so we need volunteer help to document these waterbodies.”

“We are proud to participate in the RBV program and to provide our survey data to the DEEP, as Connecticut is one of only a few states that use data collected by volunteers to make water quality assessments,” says Len DeJong, PRWC Executive Director. “With nearly 6,000 miles of flowing water in Connecticut, we know our local volunteers are a huge asset to in the effort to determine the health of rivers and streams across the state.”

Data from our sampling sites has been submitted to DEEP for inclusion in the CT DEEP’s 2016 Water Quality Report to Congress. Many thanks to all the volunteers who participated in this important volunteer effort this year!

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