DEQ's Freshwater Biological Monitoring Program uses the benthic macroinvertebrate community to assess the ecological health of freshwater streams and rivers. Benthic macroinvertebrates are invertebrate organisms such as insects, crustaceans, snails or worms that live on the bottom of streams and rivers which are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Because many of the organisms that make up these biological communities are extremely sensitive to pollutants, they often respond to changes in water quality caused by the introduction of various contaminants into a water body from point or non-point source pollution. Most benthic macroinvertebrate species have a complex life cycle of approximately one year or more and, therefore, integrate the effects of fluctuations in water quality over time. In essence, benthic macroinvertebrates are considered to be virtual “living recorders” of water quality conditions over time. Analysis of the community of these organisms provides a measure of the overall water quality of a particular water body segment.
Contractor Virginia EDAS programs:
There are 2 sets of zip files of Microsoft Access databases for contractors to use, one for Genus level data and one for Family level data in Microsoft Office 2003 (.mdb). The last set is identical but is formatted for use in Microsoft Office 2007 (.accdb). The instructions are suitable for either version. Please note, VADEQ still assesses data at a family level; however, we are moving towards a genus level index.
For further information, contact:
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, Virginia 23218