California Department of Fish and Wildlife


Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory
Introduction To CDFG's Enforcement

Introduction   |   WPIC   |   ABL Locations   |   DFG code 5650   |   BMI Protocols   |   QAPP   |   Training  |  Contacts  |  Digital Reference Collection

Bioassessment as an Enforcement Tool:

Biological assessments are an evaluation of the biological condition of waterbodies using biosurvey data and other direct measurements of resident biota in surface waters. The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) has developed a rapid bioassessment technique called the California Stream Bioassessment Procedure (CSBP), which can be used for pollution cases. The CSBP is a regional adaptation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) California Stream Bioassessment Procedure (CSBP) and is recognized by the EPA as California's standardized bioassessment procedure. It was developed to be a cost-effective tool that utilizes measures of the stream's benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) community and its physical habitat structure.
Measuring the biological and physical habitat condition of the receiving waters can enhance investigation of pollution spills. Bioassessment can contribute to an enforcement case by documenting injury resulting from a spill of a known pollutant, or can stand alone as evidence of a pollution event when chemical analysis is unavailable. Bioassessments are particularly helpful when a pollution event is reported some time after it occurs (thus preventing the collection of timely chemical samples) and when dealing with chemical spills where the substance rapidly dissipates, become diluted or flows as a pulse downstream. Bioassessments may be the only enforcement tool available for physical habitat destruction and for spills of substances with low or no toxicity values (sediment, nutrients and elemental metals), but which cause eutrophication or smother benthic communities in the water body. Step-by-step instructions for collecting and submitting samples to the Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory (ABL) are described in the CDFG Pollution Response Manual.

How the Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory can Assist You in Your Investigation Using the CSBP:

The enforcement unit of the CDFG's Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory (ABL) is located in Gold River and you can contact us with questions on how the CSBP can be use in pollution cases. You can also go to our website at and print current BMI sampling protocols, CSBP Chain of Custody (COC) Record forms, CSBP Stream Habitat Characterization forms, CSBP Physical Habitat Quality forms and any additional information about the ABL and current events.

Jim Harrington, Staff Environmental Scientist

Other Resources That You Can Use:

Please contact or send reports pertaining to aquatic resource losses (Fish and Wildlife Loss Reports) of fish or invertebrates to the contacts and above listed address. This information will be added to the departmental database producing annual reports available as a release to the public.
Water Pollution Investigation Center (WPIC) is a facility currently under development located at the Water Pollution Control Laboratory (WPCL) in Gold River where CDFG personnel, county district attorneys, and the public are able to locate all available information produced by CDFG on water pollution events throughout the state. The information will be available through the departmental webpage and the databases located at the WPCL.