Citizen Science change makers

Citizen Science seeks to employ data-collecting volunteers to bridge the gap between academics, researchers, and the general public in a bid to tackle the great issues of our time. 

Water Institute member and Head of School for History & Geography in DCU, Prof. Susan Hegarty appeared on the Irish Universities Association and RTEs production of “Change Makers” to discuss the work being done with Citizen Science groups such as the Dodder Action Group, in monitoring and maintaining national freshwater resources. Many similar groups across Ireland regularly participate in clean-up events to remove litter and waste from water bodies to improve the health of their local rivers, streams, lakes and general environment; however, citizen science can bring the scientific element of testing to indicate the actual quality of the water. 

Prof. Hegarty spoke on the importance of structure and collaboration in collecting large amounts of data in order to accurately assess national and international trends in our environment. The Waterblitz project in May 2021 exemplified the level of collaboration, harmony and interest in such a volunteer programme. During this project, volunteer groups across the country were equipped with water monitoring equipment, and collected 1000 samples on Irish freshwater quality. Colour coded chemical and observational data were uploaded by volunteers via smartphone, which were then analysed by Water Institute researchers.

This data remains open access in the spirit of Citizen science, and has been compared with findings from groups in the UK and Europe. It is hoped that downstream developments of similar Citizen Science projects will include the establishment of international frameworks for the collection of large quantities of comparable data so that we can understand the state and quality of our rivers. 

If you, your local community group or business would like to participate in a Water Citizen Science programme please email 


Profile: Dr. Susan Hegarty 

IUA  –

DCU Water Institute 

If you missed it, you can watch it back on RTE player here:




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