Data gathered by Citizen Science Leaders has prevented a potential nutrient release in one of our FreshWater Watch cities in South East Asia.
The CSL discovered the extreme rise in nitrate levels and the findings were immediately shared with the local water authority. Nitrate levels were found to have increased to more than 10mg/l – ten times higher than deemed normal by guidelines for good water quality.
Excess nutrients pose a serious risk to the health of the freshwater river, which eventually flows into local catchment basins and the city’s drinking water supply. These conditions have the potential to cause algal blooms which can release toxins with potential impacts on human health and can also use up all dissolved oxygen in the water, leading to massive loss of biodiversity in the ecosystem.
Water authority officials investigated the findings after we reported them in the summer and the situation has been resolved. Recent readings showed that the nitrates have returned back to normal (less than 1mg/L N-NO3). For legal reasons we are unable to give the precise location.
The local authority thanked the CSLs for the superb work and diligence, helping them to improve the water quality.
Professor Steven Loiselle, Earthwatch’s global manager of freshwater research, said: “This demonstrates the important role that citizen scientists can have as stewards of their local environment, in this case as an early warning to a potentially compromising situation.
“We have trained more than 5,000 FreshWater Watchers around the world and their observations and measurements are helping us to protect freshwater supplies now and build conservation plans for the future.”