The UK’s first-ever Autumn Water Watch to launch this month and here’s how you can get involved

With not one UK river in an overall state of ‘good’ health, according to the European Union Water Framework Directive , it’s never been more important to monitor the UK’s waterways.

And in response to this Planet Patrol, the environmental non-profit organisation dedicated to tackling the pressing threats of pollution, has launched the UK’s first-ever Autumn Water Watch.

Autumn Water Watch is a citizen science survey to help assess the health and quality of our freshwater environments and determine what needs to be done to urgently tackle the UK’s water quality crisis.

Autumn Water Watch will run from Friday October 14 until Sunday October 16 2022 and calls on people up and down the UK to spend just 15 minutes observing their local waters.

The data collected via the Planet Patrol app will gather valuable insights into the overall health of our waterways, providing near real-time results in a first-of-its-kind nationwide baseline study.

According to Environment Agency data, testing of rivers in England has fallen dramatically in the past decade from nearly 100,000 samples a year in 2012 to 41,519 in 2021 – the lowest level of sampling in 20 years (apart from the drop-off during Covid in 2020).

Citizen science surveys are a vital tool to fill information gaps, particularly in light of the recently announced government plans to reduce environmental standards and regulations.

Planet Patrol Founder, Lizzie Carr MBE, said: “Access to clean water is essential for human health, but also to tackle climate breakdown. Understanding the state of the UK’s waterways using people-powered data is crucial to our mission to improve water quality. We hope as many people as possible will join us. It’s a fun and positive way to help the environment, and a great excuse to get outside and spend time in nature with friends and family.

“While the health of UK’s waterways are in crisis, we know that with collective action we can create positive change. We are all connected by the same water and taking part in Autumn Water Watch gives people the chance to act. Without the efforts of volunteers, environmental issues like poor water quality would persist, unobserved and unaccounted for, whilst invisibly destroying our environment and ecosystems until it’s too late.”

● Only 14% of English rivers have ‘good’ ecological status

● No English river has ‘good’ chemical status

● Environmental funding has been cut by £120 million in 2009 to £40 million in 2020

● Between 2016 and 2021 water companies discharged sewage into waterways and the sea for a total of 9,427,355 hours, the equivalent of 1,076 years

● In 2019 dangerous pollutants in England’s rivers reached their highest levels since modern testing began

● The number of water quality samples taken by the Environment Agency fell from 160,000 to 41,519 between 2013 and 2021 – a 74% reduction in testing

● In the UK, 16 lakes have been given designated bathing status compared to Germany, which has 32 bathing water stretches in rivers, Poland has 76 and France boasts 420.

● In a review of 1,800 climate mitigation strategies, 80% were based around water

Head down to your local waterway between October 14-16 2022. It can be a river, canal, stream or lake – any freshwater environment. Spend up to 15 minutes completing the Autumn Water survey in the free Planet Patrol app recording indicators like signs of pollution, wildlife sightings and recent rainfall. For those without access to the app, an online form is available via the Planet Patrol website.

For further information on how to take part in Planet Patrol’s Autumn Water Watch, please visit www.planetpatrol.co/autumn-water-watch

Lizzie Carr


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