FreshWater Watch in the UK - Earthwatch

FreshWater Watch in the UK

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Fighting for healthy freshwater habitats across the UK

Pollution, climate change, and over-exploitation have brought our fresh water systems to crisis point. Many rivers are no longer fit to swim in and our water supplies for drinking and growing food are threatened.

Working together with local communities and partners, we have created a growing network of concerned local citizens who care about the health of their precious freshwater resources: FreshWater Watch. This involves training community groups across the UK to use our FreshWater Watch toolkit to detect nutrient pollution and fight for real change.

Only 14% of the UK’s rivers are considered to be in good ecological health, and every single one of them fails to meet the required chemical standards.

FreshWater Watch UK at a glance

There are 58 community groups across the UK, monitoring the health of their local freshwater bodies.

FreshWater Watch groups cover catchments across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Over 1,000 group members are actively collecting monthly data and sharing it on our open-access platform.

FreshWater Watch infographic: 1. Collect a freshwater sample. 2. Test for nitrates, phosphates & turbidity 3. Upload the results to our global platform. 4. Earthwatch and local partners report on data trends.

How we make a difference

Water quality research, community engagement, individual empowerment.

It is not always possible to determine water quality at first glance. The FreshWater Watch toolkit helps to uncover the secrets hidden underneath the surface and makes the invisible, visible. 

Our community groups turn into citizen scientists as they learn how to test a freshwater sample for nitrates, phosphates and turbidity.

By submitting a simple survey, they can see their data mapped in real-time, with automatically generated feedback explaining what their results show. Our data map, which has been built up over many years, creates a lasting legacy and is open access, meaning anyone can use it to track and mobilise change. 

Not only is the toolkit easy to use, but it is accessible to everyone, regardless of their education or background. Many of our FreshWater Watch community group members in the UK come to us with no prior research experience or scientific qualifications, but that doesn’t stop them from participating directly in citizen science.

Samantha Hayes, Project Manager

Each FreshWater Watch community group has its own set of local environmental challenges, such as intensive agricultural land-use, nearby mining activities or discharges from sewage treatment works (STWs). By creating a monitoring schedule that suits their needs, volunteers can enable long-term data collection that documents exactly why pollution is occurring, where and when, and then drive actions to mitigate these pollution events.

The data can also be used to evidence where healthy waterbodies are located and push for the necessary protection measures to be put in place (such as certified ‘Bathing Water Status’) to ensure that they remain this way for future generations.

Benefits for FreshWater Watch members

  • Access to water testing kits, online platform and mobile app for data collection
  • Technical support and freshwater expertise from our FreshWater Watch Team
  • Regular updates and inspiration from our global network of community groups
  • Training resources and video tutorials

Join the fight for fresh water

Community groups

Experience the power of freshwater citizen science! We offer training in the use of our global data platform and water testing kits. Join an existing community group or set up your own.

WaterBlitz events

We organise local, national and international WaterBlitz events, encouraging members of the public to take water samples over one weekend. Keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Support FreshWater Watch

Help stand against water pollution by supporting Earthwatch Europe with a one-off or monthly donation


Partner with us and help us equip more communities with the tools and knowledge to take action for their local freshwater resources. We are seeking visionary sponsors to help us drive the freshwater revolution forward. Talk to us about sponsorship opportunities today.

We have to start treating our waterways with the respect they deserve. Solving the problem will require policy changes and innovative technologies, but the power of community-based initiatives should not be underestimated!

Dave Wallace, FreshWater Watch citizen scientist

FreshWater Watch Stories

FreshWater Watch News

Get in touch

Want to join the fight for healthy freshwater habitats? Get in touch with our FreshWater Watch team today.


FreshWater Watch is only made possible through public support. Every donation helps us fight for healthy freshwater habitats.

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