FreshWater Watch Champions: The Avon Otters - Earthwatch

FreshWater Watch Champions: The Avon Otters

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 Champion, James Levelle, why he joined us and what he hopes to achieve with his new group, The Avon Otters.

About the Avon Otters

My name is James Levelle, I’m a filmmaker and adventurer, and founder of The Avon Otters. We are a group of boaters living on the River Avon in Saltford. We joined Earthwatch’s FreshWater Watch programme in the summer of 2022 after securing founding through the ChangeX website. The reason why we set up our citizen science group is because we all care very deeply about the quality of our water. We live on it, we swim in it, we canoe and sail on it, there’s paddleboarding… It’s a beautiful river full of wildlife, and we want to make sure that it’s well-looked-after.

Our three key aims are to measure the water quality of the River Avon and the streams that run into it here in Saltford, litter picking to clean up the rubbish that collects on the branches and banks of the river, and also monitoring river biodiversity.

James Levelle, founder of The Avon Otters

How joining FreshWater Watch has made a difference

Joining Earthwatch’s FreshWater Watch community has had a massive impact on us, the Avon Otters, and fellow riverine dwellers. In the simplest sense, our river-living community is now an empowered group of citizen scientists.

The process of testing our river water for clarity, nitrates and phosphates is a practice that has deepened our concern for the lifeblood of our land and the need to better care for this much loved but neglected artery, the River Avon.

The testing has encouraged us all to find more ways to share this important research and raise awareness of the poor condition of our beloved river. As such, we have purchased even more thorough water testing kits to detect and measure E-coli and other bacteria as well as other metal, mineral and chemical contaminants.

Joining Earthwatch’s FreshWater Watch community has had a massive impact on us. Our river-living community is now an empowered group of citizen scientists.

James Levelle, the Avon Otters

We produced a film to share our new knowledge and inspiration that we shared with Freshwater Watch. The film stars our two most junior citizen scientists, Yasmin and Souad, who love this river. They play and swim in it regularly, which puts them at risk of getting sick as a result of the pollution. Yasmin and Souad continue to test the river, and they have spread word of their hands on, fun scientific work to their school mates in the local area.

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

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