Professor Diba Khan-Bureau
Date of Speaker: Wednesday April 23, 2014
River Bioassessment by Volunteers (RBV) Program
Michael Beauchene was a pleasure to have in class, he discussed many things along the lines of water quality, impervious surfaces, non point source pollution, and the River Bioassessment program by volunteers (RBV). I was very interested in what this speaker had to say because I have participated in the RBV program. Michael Beauchene has been working for the CT. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in the Inland Fisheries Division since 1989. The DEP is mandated by Clean Water Act to monitor Connecticut's rivers and streams to assess water quality. If Connecticut's streams and rivers were to be laid out in a straight line it is measure to be as long as 5,920 miles. That is a lot of miles of rivers and streams for just the DEP to monitor! With this being said, Michael Beauchene created the River Bioassessment so volunteers can assess their local rivers and streams using Benthic Macroinvertebrates.
Good water quality is extremely important because it is essential for life. Things that are associated with Urban growth such as an increase in impervious surfaces, roads, parking lots, roof tops, etc. are the main contributors to storm water runoff, which negatively impacts rivers, streams, and other water sources such as wells. Impervious surfaces is a huge problem because it impacts our natural water sources greatly. Impervious surfaces prevent rainfall from naturally soaking into the soil, instead, when rainfall hits these impervious surfaces, it is rushed over the landscape carrying pollutants and contaminants that directly end up in our waterways. It is very important to monitor waterways because impervious surfaces can damage them greatly, poisoning our fish, wildlife, and of course, us. In 1999, the RBV was created by Michael Beauchene. The RBV is volunteer program that assesses the quality of water in local rivers and streams. The quality of the water is determined through the presence or absence of aquatic benthic macroinvertebrates, more particularly, riffle dwelling benthic macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates are animals without a backbone, they are small but can be seen with the unaided eye. “Ariffleis a section of a stream or river characterized by rapid turbulent flow, a stable rocky substrate, and is wadeable most of the year” (Uconnladybug). Macroinvertebrates are highly sensitive to environmental stressors. They can give an idea of the waters quality depending on their presence and absence in rivers and streams. The most sensitive species of macroinvertebrates can tolerate very little pollution and will therefore only be present in the healthiest streams.
The RBV program for volunteers categorizes macroinvertebrates by most wanted, moderately wanted, and least wanted. In the most wanted category, the water quality of that stream or river is outstanding because these macroinvertebrates require the cleanest water in order to survive. Macroinvertebrates in this category include the Michelin Man, Giant Stonefly, and Common Stonefly. Moderately wanted macroinvertebrates are usually found in streams and rivers that range anywhere from outstanding to good water conditions. An example of a few of these macroinvertebrates in this category are the Fingernet caddis fly, Water Penny, and dragonfly. Finally the last category is the least wanted. The least wanted macroinvertebrates such as aquatic worms, leeches, black fly larvae, and amphipods can survive in very poor water conditions, therefore the water quality these macroinvertebrates live in can be very poor. After macroinvertebrates from each site is collected and identified, a voucher collection is sent to the CT DEP. This voucher contains at least four of the most wanted macroinvertebrates that provides evidence for CT DEP so they can verify that the location monitored has high water quality.
Michael Beauchene was a pleasure to have in class. It is very exciting to know that this speaker is the creator of the River Bioassessment by Volunteers. This program is extraordinary because it helps the CT DEP assess the water quality of Connecticut's many rivers and streams. It is very important to monitor our water ways because things such as impervious surfaces negatively impact them. Benthic Macroinvertebrates are very sensitive animals with characteristics that react to the environmental stressors such as pollution in rivers and streams, therefore these species are very useful when determining the water quality of streams.