The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) has successfully deployed trail cameras to monitor stream levels in the state, offering proof-of-concept for a cost-effective method that will help inform the agency’s stream management efforts.
Stream connectivity during droughts is one of many concerns for staff in DEEP’s Water Planning and Management Division. In 2017, DEEP staff deployed “trail” cameras at seven streams throughout the state and categorized their apparent connectivity based on hourly photographs from the cameras. DEEP staff also developed 30 metrics to describe the magnitude, frequency, duration, and timing components of stream connectivity.
Installing each of these units carried a cost of roughly $500, compared to more than $20,000 for the typical stream flow gauge stations used by the U.S. Geological Survey and others. The number of cameras deployed has since expanded to 30.
Insights from the field camera method have yielded or are expected to yield changes in Connecticut’s Clean Water Act 303(d) list, State Water Plan, and other official documents.
A paper on the pilot effort was published this August in the journal Rivers Research and Applications, and aspects of it have been replicated by other states including Vermont.
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