Lincolnshire Rivers Trust volunteers taking water samples in partnership with Earthwatch Europe noticed potential pollution entering the Prial Drain in Lincoln, which is close to industrial units and businesses.
The volunteers helped identify a specific type of pollution and where it was coming from. This enabled the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, which owns the surface water system, to quickly target and visit certain businesses to offer pollution prevention advice and solutions. During these visits, three sources of pollution were identified and remedied.
"Our objective is to create better places for people and wildlife in England," said Laura Boath, land and water team leader at the Environment Agency.
"Protecting and improving the quality of water is a vital part of that. But with 136,000km of rivers, more than 5,700 lakes and 234,000 ponds, it's a demanding job – and we can't do it alone.
"The effort made by local people and volunteers complements our own hard work and is essential to identifying, monitoring and reporting issues that need our attention. They are our eyes and ears in communities up and down the country.
"The information provided to us by FreshWater Watch volunteers in Lincoln has been invaluable. It helped us and our partners target pollution-prevention advice and solutions to businesses in the area, tackling the pollution right at its source."
Earthwatch Europe's flagship freshwater research, FreshWater Watch, is possible thanks to more than 8,000 volunteers around the world participating. More than 19,000 water quality samples have been submitted by volunteers using simple kits to measure nutrient and sediment pollution, filling gaps in local governments’ monitoring and providing complementary information on small waterbodies.
In the UK, numerous Rivers Trusts are using FreshWater Watch with their volunteers to monitor water quality.
"Water quality is key to a healthy aquatic environment, so being able to pinpoint any pollution source is vital for the health of our rivers," said Dr Lauren Vickers, CEO Lincolnshire Rivers Trust.
"Working with our water quality monitoring volunteers has meant that we were able to identify a problem that would otherwise be missed, and by working with our partners within the Witham Catchment Partnership, action could be taken swiftly to remove this source of pollution.
"As a charity we are reliant on our volunteers and this story demonstrates just how important they are."