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FreshWater Watch

Protecting our fresh 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


freshwater quality datasets collected


participants actively taking part in FreshWater Watch


waterbodies monitored around the world


community groups across 32 countries and all 6 continents


scientific research papers published using FreshWater Watch data

WaterBlitz Events

Help us understand fresh water near you! Find out more about our WaterBlitz events.

Water Programme Impact

The HSBC Water Programme, which launched in 2012, was a collaborative partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF. It has been successful in tackling the global water challenge through water provision, protection, education and scientific research. 

Our research into fresh water

Find out more about our freshwater research 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 our pan-European WaterBlitz 2021 which took place in England and the Netherlands. The WaterBlitzes 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.

Images: John Hunt, Jay Ortiz


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