FreshWater Watch has two levels which work together to investigate the health of the world’s freshwater ecosystems on a scale never seen before. Your contribution to this study is vital - without it we won't be able to test the quantity of locations or the number of times that we need to create projects that will have a high impact in tackling the freshwater challenge.

LEVEL ONE: Global Data

We have global data questions which are consistent in every location around the world. So if you’re testing at rivers in Rio, lakes in London, streams in Sydney, beaches in Buffalo or ponds in Paris you know that you are doing exactly the same as FreshWater Watchers everywhere.

The data tests and observations can be summarised as below:

Research Questions

  • What are the causes of the loss of freshwater quality?

  • Why are freshwater ecosystems degrading?

Research Purpose

  • To better manage and protect the world’s freshwater.

The Role of the FreshWater Watcher

  • To uncover the causes of the loss of freshwater quality and ecosystem degradation.

  • To be part of a global community providing environmental information on a scale never seen before.

Researchers measuring water turbidity
Professor Steven Loiselle (kneeling), Head of International Freshwater Research, demonstrates measuring turbidity to a FreshWater Watcher.


LEVEL TWO: Local Data

A key element of the second level of FreshWater Watch are 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 as well as gather data for global FreshWater Watch research. These local priorities have global implications such as investigating the benefits of restoration activities (Singapore), examining sources of litter pollution in the Great Lakes (Buffalo, Chicago and Montreal).

In this level of FreshWater Watch, we form partnerships with corporate partners such as HSBC and Shell, schools, NGOs, volunteers groups and other groups.

The FreshWater Watchers who participate in this level attend a training day as well as completing the online training and become known as Citizen Science Leaders.

Find out more details on our local projects around the world.

FreshWater Watch in Jakarta
An HSBC Citizen Science Leader collects a water sample in Jakarta.


How the Data will be Used

FreshWater Watch data is set into a wider geographical context with climate, land use, population, hydrological, socio-economic, water management and governance data.

This allows the programme scientists to identify what factors most influence water quality. For example:

  • Is water quality in densely populated urban areas always worse than that in more sparsely populated areas?

  • What is the effect of extreme weather events on water quality and aquatic ecosystem conditions?

Comparisons will be made between different areas within cities, between cities and between different water body types. The completed analysis will then be available for use by Governments and other policymakers to improve the management of our freshwater resources.


Next > Research Priorities