Science is key to addressing environmental issues. Collaboration with academic bodies and other research institutions allows us to share our citizen science expertise and fresh water research with a wider audience.
The credibility of our FreshWater Watch methodology and of our scientific partners means that the data collected are used in global research studies and published in peer-reviewed academic papers.
FreshWater Watch is part of a network of research institutions exploring specific freshwater issues. Institutions can devise their own bespoke project or join global research projects.
Projects we are/have contributed to include:
MICS: MICS is a collaboration between Earthwatch, IHE Delft (The Netherlands), Distretto Delle Alpi Orientale (Italy), Geonardo (Hungary), the River Restoration Centre (UK), and GeoEcoMar (Romania). It measures the impacts of FreshWater Watch, among other citizen science initiatives, as well as the wider effects river restoration can have on the environment, economy, society, governance, and science.
MONOCLE: MONOCLE is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). It mixes citizen science methods of monitoring water quality, with measurements taken by fixed sensors, drones, and satellites.
COS4CLOUD: Co-ordinated by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Cos4Cloud will design new tools to aid citizen science data collection. These are based on lessons learned from FreshWater Watch.
GroundTruth 2.0: Led by IHE Delft, GroundTruth 2.0 brought citizen scientists together with governments and other stakeholders to create co-designed ‘citizen observatories’. FreshWater Watch was used in a citizen observatory in Sweden to monitor nutrient pollution in lakes around Stockholm.
Professor Davi Cunha of the Universidade de São Paulo was one of the first research scientists to lead a FreshWater Watch project. In 2012, as part of the HSBC Water programme, he began to lead citizen scientists to monitor nutrients and harmful algal blooms in streams in Curitiba, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Under Davi's leadership, the work of FreshWater Watchers in these three cities led to several ground-breaking scientific publications on stream health in urban areas (PloS ONE 2016; Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences 2017, Science of The Total Environment 2017; Freshwater Science 2019).
We are currently working with Professor Cunha to investigate the impacts of algal blooms on the Lobo Reservoir in the São Paulo State. This reservoir was originally built for hydropower generation in 1936, but nowadays it is also used for navigation and recreation, benefiting around 300,000 people. Nutrient pollution in this aquatic system comes from untreated sewage inputs as well as runoff from urban and agricultural areas. This leads to harmful algae proliferation, especially in the warmer months when the air temperature reaches above 30 Celsius.
Professor Cunha received an Earthwatch Shulman Award for his work.
Professor Fiona Regan and Dr. Susan Hegarty of Dublin City University have been partnered with Earthwatch since 2019. They use FreshWater Watch with volunteers in Ireland to monitor the quality of urban rivers in Dublin as part of their ‘Backdrop’ project, and, having captured the imaginations of Dubliners during the 2019 WaterBlitz, are now looking to expand FreshWater Watch across Ireland.