FreshWater Watch Champions: Swords Tidy Towns - Earthwatch

FreshWater Watch Champions: Swords Tidy Towns

FreshWater Watch is our citizen science programme that gives communities fresh water testing tools to monitor water quality, identify problems and fight for improvements in their local water bodies. Hear from our FreshWater Watch Champions, Ramune Kuzminiene and Catherine Napper McDonagh, what their group, the Swords Tidy Towns, have achieved so far.

About the Swords Tidy Towns

Our FreshWater Watch community group was formed out of an existing volunteer group which is caring for the town of Swords near Dublin through litter picking and citizen science activities. We are very lucky to have a river flowing through the heart of our town.

Some of our members had taken part in a WaterBlitz event organised by the environmental charity, Earthwatch Europe, as part of their FreshWater Watch programme. A funding opportunity from the Change X platform encouraged us to commit to a whole year of regular water testing activities. A very committed group of five members was successfully formed in May 2023 and has been out every month to do the water quality testing.

Testing 10 different locations (in two rivers and an estuary) means that we were producing a great amount of data that is contributing to the global pool of data to be analysed by the experts.

Members of the Swords Tidy Towns water testing community group

How joining FreshWater Watch has made a difference

FreshWater Watch is a great way to get to know your river, detect any problems and at the same time raise awareness.

In September 2023, we were proud to be part of the FreshWater Watch WorldWaterBlitz event.

Sharing our water testing adventures through photos on our social media channels has raised more awareness and interest in our rivers within our local communities. Sharing test results encouraged conversations and discussions about the quality of our precious freshwater resources. Through joining the FreshWater Watch community, we have become more visible to other groups doing similar work in other areas. We were contacted by another group from a neighbouring town and we are currently in discussion about forming a communication channel for our wider network so we can keep in touch easily, share experiences and provide help if necessary.

As much as this project was about raising awareness and contributing to the global data, it was also a personal journey and had a positive impact on our lives. Catherine shares some of her experiences in a blog on the Swords Tidy Towns website.

The monthly testing routine compels me to carve out time for myself, encouraging me to venture to my two designated testing locations. Whether the weather is gloomy and damp or the sun is beaming down, these outings consistently have a positive impact on my mood and wellbeing.

Catherine Napper McDonagh, member of Swords Tidy Towns and freshwater citizen scientist

Learn more about FreshWater Watch in the UK and how to take action for your local freshwater body.

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