We know that water is fundamentally important to our existence, and life around us. But when you get to a local body of water, how do you determine if it is healthy or not?
You probably have some sort of idea of what an unhealthy body of water looks like.
Have you ever...
come across a pond or lake which looks green and murky from all the algae growing in it?
decided to avoid a stream because of the smell?
seen a canal with plastic rubbish floating in it?
realised that fewer animals are visiting the local waterbody?
These simple clues can give you an idea of the health of a waterbody. You probably wouldn’t decide to swim in any of the water you just thought about, and certainly not drink from it!
Observations of freshwater ecosystems are key to our research, which is why we ask FreshWater Watchers to take pictures of the site they are testing and upload them to our database. We also ask them to look for plant and animal life, the presence of algae blooms or mats, the water colour, visible sources of pollution and land use.
Surprisingly, even when a waterbody looks clean and healthy on the surface, the biological and chemical balance can actually be unhealthy. This is why scientists have developed other tests to get more information about water quality and the health of an ecosystem.
Activity: Take a look at these pictures from actual FreshWater Watchers completing their water quality tests, and think about all of the things you can see.
Did you consider human activity and surrounding land use? What about water colour and depth? Roll your mouse over the thumbnail images to reveal more things to consider!