14 October, 2022
In January, MPs sounded alarm bells over the “chemical cocktail” of sewage, agriculture and road pollution run-off contaminating England’s rivers. The Environment Agency’s river testing has fallen by 74% over the past decade due to budget cuts, leaving a knowledge vacuum about the extent and effects of pollution. How can we anticipate and mitigate water quality threats if we don’t know what’s going on in our waterways?
Now, not-for-profit environmental group Planet Patrol is encouraging citizens to take matters into their own hands – and the good news is, it only takes 15 minutes if you find yourself near a water course this weekend! They have created Autumn Water Watch, the first ever nationwide observational study of freshwater environments. This weekend (from 14th-16th October), they encourage you to head to your nearest freshwater location (a canal, stream, river or lake) to spend 15 minutes making observations. These are logged in the Water Watch app, and include information about pollution, plastic litter, invasive species, and wildlife in and around the water.
We are really excited about this study, not least because involving citizens directly in sustainability initiatives has been linked to a range of environmental and social benefit, including biodiversity protection, ecosystem services, and community building.
Autumn Water Watch will provide real-time insight into the state of England’s waterways. The results will be provided to scientists for further analysis, plugging holes in knowledge and helping to tackle the climate crisis. We’re excited to explore our local waterways this weekend – perhaps we’ll bump into you!
By Miriam Shovel