The full picture of water health - Earthwatch

The full picture of water health

Getting the full picture: assessing the complementarity of citizen science and agency monitoring data shows that water quality data collected by our FreshWater Watch volunteers can enhance and complement monitoring by the Environment Agency.

The study analysed water quality sampling by both the Environment Agency and FreshWater Watch volunteers across the Thames catchment between 2013 and 2015.

The results show that water sampled by FreshWater Watchers helped fill geographical gaps in Environment Agency sampling, as the volunteers tended to test smaller streams and ponds. These findings highlight the clear potential of our volunteers to complement agency monitoring efforts, by generating information on harder to reach fresh water ecosystems.

FreshWater Watch has been designed so that the reliability of volunteer data is assured by comparing it with experts’ samples of similar areas. An equally important step that FreshWater Watch has taken to ensure reliability is to offer online training and discussion, so that FreshWater Watchers can fully develop their skills.

Thanks to the commitment of volunteers around the world, Water Blitzes in the UK and Sweden, and new partnerships with Rivers Trusts in the UK, we’ve reached 19,000 water quality samples on our database.

FreshWater Watch helps people research and learn about fresh water to safeguard the quality and supply of this most precious and vital resource. The programme strives to mobilise the general public to observe and monitor key indicator species in their local areas and input the data into a central database which can be used by academia, research institutes and governmental agencies, as well as NGOs.

The Environment Agency is the governmental public body responsible for, among other duties, managing and monitoring water quality and water resources in England.

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