Water Quality Monitoring Network

Photo credit: Ellie Ramsden

At the River Thame Trust, we believe in the power of citizen science and volunteer efforts to protect our local rivers and streams.

Water quality is a key issue in the River Thame catchment constraining the attainment of a healthy and thriving ecosystem. None of the 20 sub-catchment achieve "good ecological status" per the Water Framework Directive. Monitoring by stuatary bodies has declined to a point where the spatial and temporal frequency is insuffient for fully understanding the complex range of pollution sources and their impacts required to inform effective action.

To address this need, we launched our Water Quality Monitoring Network in autumn 2022. It is an ongoing initiative which trains volunteers to sample, measure, and record data on a monthly basis from designated sites across the Thame catchment. The data collected is publically available and is enabling the Trust to better understand pollution sources, their ecological impact, the required actions including engagement with regulators, the water industry and other parties.

The Numbers

We have trained 53citizen scientists who monitor 49 strategically located sites across the 20 sub-catchments within the Thame catchment. As of September 2023, volunteers have submitted 552data sets to our online platform.

The Water Quality Monitoring Network is a vital initiative that helps us understand and safeguard the health of the River Thame and its surrounding ecosystem.

By collecting data on water quality parameters, we can identify potential pollution incidents, track long-term trends, and take appropriate action to protect our precious waterways.

The data is recorded on the Freshwater Watch platform, a central database, which can be accessed and utilised by anyone.

In addition to gaining benefits ourselves, we are able to leverage a much wider benefit by feeding into an international platform. In this way our local data becomes part of a wider database available to inform conservation efforts, policy-making, and management strategies aimed at protecting and restoring freshwater resources.

Our objective extends beyond the collection of high-quality, comprehensive, and consistent data. We are committed to sharing this data with the public and conducting in-depth analyses alongside existing datasets to uncover valuable trends and patterns in river health and pollution.

Currently, RTCT is collaborating with partners to develop data analysis and visualisation tools, platforms and reports which will unlock important insights about the health of the watercourses in the catchment and the issues impacting them. We invite you to stay tuned for updates, as we are planning to publish our findings in a user-friendly format accessible to anyone interested in enhancing the health of the River Thame catchment.

The project has only been made possible with the generous funding provided by:

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