This fall, the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC) will conduct its 12th annual Macroinvertebrate Survey and is looking for volunteers to help collect samples of tiny, river-dwelling creatures as a measure of stream health on Saturday October 14.
Before going out into the field, volunteers must attend a training session where they will learn about macroinvertebrates, why they are collected, and how to collect them following procedures established by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Volunteers will then go out to survey small streams and brooks throughout the Pomperaug Watershed and identify what was collected. Voucher samples and data sheets are later submitted to DEEP for verification and inclusion in their larger statewide Riffle Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) program.
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.”
High quality streams identified through the RBV program are documented in DEEP’s biennial Water Quality Report to Congress, which includes the inventory of all waters monitored during a two year cycle. Water bodies not meeting standards for swimmable or fishable conditions are flagged as those needing corrective measures to restore quality, while healthy streams are flagged for protection.
“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.”
PRWC’s annual Macroinvertebrate Survey will take place on Saturday October 14th at the PRWC Office located at 39 Sherman Hill Road, Building C, in Woodbury. The training session begins at 9:00 AM and will run about 90 minutes. Sample collection and processing typically takes a few hours. Volunteers should plan to be needed until 3:00 PM, but the day typically wraps up earlier.
Individuals interested in learning about the program but not able to conduct field work are welcome to attend the training session in the morning. Similarly, volunteers unable to commit for the full day are invited to attend the training session and then coordinate with Carol Haskins, PRWC’s survey organizer, to obtain a stream assignment to survey before the end of October.
“Altogether, we have six sites throughout Woodbury, Southbury, and Bethlehem we plan to survey this year,” said Haskins. “That means we need at least a dozen volunteers to work in small teams to survey each site.”
Adults and children over age 10 (with an adult) are welcome to participate in the survey. To sign up to volunteer call 203-263-0076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Dress to wade in the water -- old sneakers than can get wet or waders are recommended, please no open-toed sandals. Volunteers are also asked to bring a digital camera with them to document stream conditions at the time of their survey. Light refreshments will be provided.
The survey will go on in light rain, but in the case of high streamflow conditions, downpours, or thunder, only the training session will be held. PRWC will coordinate with the trained volunteers to survey stream locations as conditions and volunteer availability permits in the weeks that follow the training.
Volunteers who pre-register for the survey will be notified of any cancellations in the case of unsafe survey conditions.