Local issues

A key element of FreshWater Watch is the collaborations we have created with organisations such as the University of Sao Paulo, The Open University of Hong Kong, The Singapore Delft Water Alliance and The Chinese Academy of Science. These collaborations seek to address specific local water challenges.

Over 80 groups across the world have used FreshWater Watch to address local freshwater issues. These groups are working on projects including:

  • monitoring the efficiency of river and wetland restoration in the UK, Mexico, Singapore and India
  • identifying freshwater habitats with high biodiversity in the UK, USA, Hong Kong and Argentina
  • mitigating the impact of agricultural practises on freshwater resources in China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Italy
  • identifying the causes of pollution problems in freshwater resources in the UK, Zambia, Tanzania, Brazil, Argentina and Hong Kong.

Citizen scientists using FreshWater Watch have made important contributions to local decision making and national policy.

UK

The Lincolnshire Rivers Trust conduct regular FreshWater Watch measurements to monitor diffuse industrial pollution and identify pollution events in their urban catchment. The citizen scientists identified one urban drain where nitrate concentrations were routinely higher than other similar water bodies in the area. This data was given to the local water company and the Environment Agency, who identified the source of pollution and took action. In this case, citizen science records were used as an early warning system for pollution incidents that would breach the environmental standards set by the Water Framework Directive. Other groups around the country are also conducting similar monitoring. (2018 – ongoing)

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Brazil

Hundreds of citizen scientists in three of Brazil’s largest cities helped identify the causes of urban algal blooms, which contain microtoxins with potential impacts on human health. On more than one occasion FreshWater Watch measurements showing high nutrient concentrations, together with sightings of algal blooms, supported interventions by the local municipality to address nutrient sources and inform locals of the presence of harmful algal blooms. (2013 – 17)

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China

FreshWater Watch citizen scientists gathered more than 1,000 datasets in reservoirs and rivers around Guangzhou. This enabled local scientists at the South China Agricultural University to develop new approaches to land and fertiliser use to reduce the impact of agricultural activities on the freshwater supplies to Guangzhou. These findings are supporting local farmers and the Guangdong Provincial Government to reduce nitrogen pollution from fertilisers while maintaining crop yields and economic returns. (2014 – 17)

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