Earthwatch publishes results of the Big WaterBlitz 2022 revealing nutrient pollution as a global issue
7th November 2022
From 30 September – 3 October 2022, Earthwatch Europe encouraged their existing FreshWater Watch community groups to take part in a global water monitoring event, creating a unique snapshot of freshwater health across European and African countries.
FreshWater Watch is the citizen science programme from Earthwatch Europe that engages citizen scientists to monitor the water quality of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands around the world. A WaterBlitz is a community event which is usually hosted over one weekend and invites citizen scientists to test the water quality of their local waterbody. The data collected by hundreds of people over this same time period allows for an accurate and comparable assessment of water health within a region.
In total, 13 community groups across six countries took part in the Big WaterBlitz 2022, collecting 73 FreshWater Watch surveys.
The results show that nutrient pollution is a global issue. Wastewater effluent and agricultural runoff are the biggest sources. Only 8% of FreshWater Watch surveys in six countries measured ‘good’ levels of nitrates and phosphates combined. Nutrient pollution is reducing freshwater biodiversity, disrupting vital biogeochemical processes and ultimately leading to enhanced Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Nutrient pollution is occurring alongside other environmental stressors such as flow modification, invasive species and overfishing, and climate change. These stresses explain why freshwater habitats have the highest proportion of endangered species, more than any other habitat.
The next step is to ensure this vital data is being used as evidence to influence policy and drive changes in international, national and local laws in relation to better water management.
More data and insights from the Big WaterBlitz Event 2022 can be found here.