The objectives of the Rotating Integrated Basin Studies (RIBS) program are to assess water quality of all waters of the state, including the documentation of good quality waters and the identification of water quality problems; identify long-term water quality trends; characterize naturally occurring or background conditions; and establish baseline conditions for use in measuring the effectiveness of site-specific restoration and protection activities. The program is designed so that all major drainage basins in the state are monitored every five years (Figure 1).
To address the objectives and the rotating cycle, the RIBS program is designed around several related monitoring schemes:
- The Screening Network provides a narrative assessment of water quality at a large number of sampling sites based on biological assessment using macroinvertebrate community analysis, or biomonitoring, as well as measures of of acute toxicity in the water, physical habitat evaluation and water chemistry. Locations identified during the screening year may be selected for additional sampling during the following year.
- Special Surveys are designed to answer specific questions regarding habitat and water quality and may employ multi-media sampling-depth integrated water chemistry, bottom sediment and invertebrate tissue chemistry, toxicity testing, macroinvertebrate or fish community assessments, habitat assessment--depending on the focus of the survey.
- The Routine Trend Monitoring Network provides information for establishing basic water quality characteristics and baseline conditions, and for identifying long-term trends by sampling at fixed sites across the state, conducted each year, regardless of the rotating cycle.
- The Toxicity Testing Unit 's bioassay monitoring evaluates toxicity of sediment and ambient surface waters collected by the RIBS Screening Network.
- The WAVE (Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators) screening program collects biological data at various locations around the state and provides the RIBS Screening Network with potential site selection.
RIBS program water quality data and information are used to support assessment and management functions within NYSDEC Division of Water (DOW), including the Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List (WI/PWL), New York State's Clean Water Act Section 305(b) Water Quality Report, and Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters of the state. More details on methods, assessment criteria and their application in the RIBS program are contained in the Quality Assurance Program Plans and Standard Operating Procedures for each of the sampling media. These documents are available from NYSDEC on request.
Contact: Meredith Streeter, Chief, Stream Monitoring and Assessment Section