Monitoring water quality: A citizen science success story

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 19 November 2021
Schafer B., Heppell C.M., Rhys H., Beck C.

The importance of novel methods of data analysis for environmental problems cannot be overestimated. Working in an interdisciplinary way opens up new avenues for solutions, aiming at a cleaner and sustainable local environment, and the ChessWatch project helped to widen public awareness.

It was truly inspiring to apply our theoretical framework to an important real-life application, working together across disciplines and together with Citizen Scientists.

Chalk streams, named after the chalk rock on which they flow, are iconic rivers valued for their clear waters, ecological richness and heritage status. They are globally rare ecosystems with a majority (224) located in England, United Kingdom (WWF, 2014). However, these rivers are under increasing pressure from urbanization and agricultural activity, threatening the water quality and ecology. Hence, within this collaboration and as described in the iScience article published recently (Schäfer et al., 2021), we want to monitor water quality, generally obtain a better quantitative understanding of the driving forces controlling different water quality determinands, and eventually contribute to improving water quality in the river. In this work we focused on the River Chess in the Chilterns ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ located in the South-East of England. In this backstory we discuss the impetus of this research project, how the project was interdisciplinary, and how we hope this work can continue in the future.