"It’s really good that the bank is involved and they give us space to think about it as it touches lots of employees lives. It's not a huge amount of time to give up and it’s great to be contributing."
FreshWater Watch, the largest freshwater citizen science programme of its kind has reached the 10,000th water quality test. Citizen Science Leader Steve Irvine took the milestone samples on his first independent FreshWater Watch.
Steve, 46, completed his CSL training in September in Sheffield, where he works at HSBC in IT as a Development Specialist. He has been interested in science since school, but hadn’t found a way to be involved since completing his A-levels.
He said: “I chose to do this because of the global aspect of this programme as the chance to contribute easily at my own local level.”
“Everyone thinks of Sheffield as being this big, industrialised city, but there are a number of streams and rivers. It's quite a green city so you don't have to go far from your front door to get to the country and see all the catchments feeding into the bigger rivers.”
Earthwatch trains participants in how they can take an active role in scientific data-gathering, supervised by experts, and join a global community of citizen scientists working together to promote freshwater sustainability.
“It was fantastic. Not only the practical water testing and being out in the woods but also understanding the wider picture of water around the world and impact of citizen science study.”
Steve took the 10,000th sample very close to home.
He added: “It's literally a few hundred yards from my house; a tiny stream feeding into the River Don. Before the training day I presumed I would be sampling the big river but the training made it quite clear that it was important and pertinent to sample smaller streams in the catchment.”
The programme trains HSBC employees to use colour changing chemicals to test for phosphates and nitrates. These are two key and common pollutants put in fresh water by human activity.
“On the training day the tests that we did showed that both nutrients were quite low. On my own sampling near home I got a high nitrate reading. My daughter came with me and she was quite impressed with the colour change, although obviously that’s not what you want to see.”
Nitrates can come from many sources including industry, agriculture and human waste. If Nitrates get too high in a water body, they cause a build-up of algae – called algal blooms – which take oxygen from the water and severely reduce biodiversity and harm human health.
Since reaching 10,000 samples in our water quality database, hundreds more results have been uploaded. This level of research by our citizen scientists is creating an incredibly robust foundation for scientists and decision-makers to make truly sustainable water management choices at local and global levels.
Steve has some words of advice for anyone thinking of doing CSL training: “Just go a head and do it. Aside from the perspective of being able to do it on work time, it’s really good that the bank is involved and the give us space to think about it as it touches lots of employees lives. It's not a huge amount of time to give up and it’s great to be contributing.’
How to get involved: CSL training is available for HSBC employees through the HSBC Water Programme, a partnership between HSBC, Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF.
Register your interest with your regional coordinator:
Asia South Pacific - firstname.lastname@example.org
Europe and Middle East and Africa - email@example.com
Latin America - firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada - email@example.com
We welcome collaboration with corporate partners, research institutions, schools and colleges, volunteer groups and members of the public who wish to take part: https://freshwaterwatch.thewaterhub.org/content/get-involved