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FreshWater Watch

Understanding our precious water

FreshWater Watch is a global project led by thousands of people like you.

By taking part in our research, you will help us learn how to safeguard the quality and supply of this most precious and vital resource. 

Why should we care about fresh water?

Around the world, freshwater resources are in crisis.

Water is all around us, but just 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh water. And less than 1% of that water is available for people to use.

Fresh water is a vital but increasingly threatened resource. In just 40 years, populations of freshwater species have declined by 80%. Our recent research into the UK’s Thames river catchment showed that nitrate levels remain high, representing a threat to water quality for both humans and animals. As our population grows, pollution from industry, farming, and households is threatening the quality of water in every part of the world.

To tackle this problem, we need to understand our freshwater environments, and how best to protect them.

What is FreshWater Watch?

FreshWater Watch is a global project which enables individuals and communities to monitor, protect and restore their local water resources.

We train people around the world to collect water and analyse water samples from local rivers, lakes, and other bodies of fresh water. The resulting data provides the evidence needed to support efforts aimed at improving water quality.

FreshWater Watch was launched in 2012 as part of the HSBC Water Programme. Since then, Earthwatch has expanded this flagship project to reach volunteers, research organisations, and schools across the world.

As water experts, we know we will only improve freshwater habitats by working together. That’s why we’re bringing together citizens, businesses, governments, scientists, and educators to protect our fresh water.

Our impact so far


datasets on water quality collected by our volunteers


people have been trained to monitor local water quality


students, community volunteers, and corporate employees educated about the global water challenge


scientific publications have used Freshwater Watch data


Our work has supported water quality improvement in 2,500 ecosystems across 40 cities, 20 countries and 6 continents

Impact report

Our FreshWater Watch Impact Report looks back on five years of success, demonstrating the social and environmental impact of the programme through case studies from around the world. 

Read about freshwater pollution

Find out more about fresh water and the challenges facing this precious resource. 

Donate to Earthwatch

By donating you are helping us protect freshwater resources across the globe. For example, we’re working with partners in Zambia to provide scientific kits, training, and support for local groups, helping them to monitor and protect the quality of their water supplies. 

Read our latest Water Blitz report

Read the latest report from the Thames catchment and Pan-European Water Blitz events. The Water Blitzes support our bi-annual survey of the health of your local aquatic environment. By collecting water samples volunteers can help take a snapshot of water quality and identify pollution hotspots.

FreshWater Watch in your school

As part of our Discover Earth programme, we offer a school assembly, outdoor classes and exploration of the Global Goals (or SDGs), using FreshWater Watch amongst our other research activities.

Images: John Hunt, Jay Ortiz


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Earthwatch Institute (Europe) is a registered charity in England and Wales, no. 1094467.