In five years FreshWater Watch Citizen Science Leaders (CSLs) have collected more than 16,000 water quality samples from more than 2,200 water sites around the world. This level of research would have taken Earthwatch’s Global Freshwater Research Manager, Professor Steven Loiselle and his team 11 years to collect the same data.
Professor Loiselle and research partners in 20 cities world-wide have been seeking partnerships, innovations and new opportunities to share the outcomes of CSL research.
A new partnership with Thames Water has secured funding to provide a never-seen-before picture of the Thames river basin. A new online platform integrates and displays water data from FreshWater Watch, Environment Agency and multiple River Trusts. This provides a much needed greater context for data collected by multiple communities of citizen scientists and stakeholders.
Prof. Loiselle joined the judging panel at a Riverhack event in Oxford, UK. The Riverhack brought together people passionate about protecting the health of our rivers to team up in a race against the clock to design new ways of monitoring water quality.
The winning concepts the Riverhack team are hoping to develop are:
- a low cost innovative idea to measure turbidity using just a pint glass and sticky notes
- a project to track the impact of dogs and ducks on our rivers by bringing existing water quality data together with harvested social media data
- a Bluetooth-enabled river appreciation project
Prof. Loiselle shared FreshWater Watch at Perivale Wood Local Nature Reserve in London, one of UK’s oldest natural reserves. He also gave a talk entitled ‘People power: Citizens and communities supporting environmental research’ at King’s College, London. Here he encouraged conservation enthusiasts and students to bring people into the solutions to our environmental challenges and give them the power to make changes. FreshWater Watch lets people learn about the challenges facing our freshwater ecosystems and be part of the answer to the problems, locally and on a global scale.
At the Innovation in Water Crowdsourcing event in Geneva in November and for the Dutch water sector in Amsterdam, Prof. Loiselle outlined how simple and reliable instruments for water measurement and a motivated community has helped the success of FreshWater Watch and the HSBC Water Programme to meet major scientific and management challenges.
This ‘crowdsourcing’ approach to research means that people from all walks of life have the opportunity to contribute to research that matters and helps influence change. CSLs give, on average, six hours of research, for each hour of training. That data has proven that average phosphate concentrations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are above legal standards; demostrating that nutrient concentrations are higher in running water bodies, yet algal blooms occur more frequently in still waters; and showing that water quality is better in rivers and lakes with vegetated banks acting as buffer zones.