Dublin City University’s Water Institute asks the public to test the water quality in their local rivers, streams and lakes
The 2022 WaterBlitz hosted by DCU’s Water Institute is taking place from 7th – 10th October 2022 in conjunction with EarthWatch Europe. The project, kindly sponsored by Smart Dublin, Dublin City Council and the Local Authority Waters Programme, encourages members of the public to test the water in rivers, lakes, streams and canals so that a snapshot of the health and state of Ireland’s waterways can be taken.
The aim is to empower citizens to gather information on the status of water bodies nationwide, celebrating the cleanest water bodies and identifying pollution hotspots. Tidy Towns groups, river and canal clean up groups, environmental groups and any community organisations that care about our natural waters, are invited to take part.
DCU will build on this work and monitor many more rivers and waterways this year with the help of citizen scientists. The survey is easy to do and the records collected will help direct conservation action.
The 2019 and 2021 editions of the WaterBlitz found high levels of litter in our waterways, particularly in the Dublin area.
How to take part
Any group can register to be part of the Irish WaterBlitz or email Waterinstitute@dcu.ie. They will receive a free testing kit in the post. Over the four days, they can coordinate to test the water in as many places as they like and input their results on the Freshwater Watch app. DCU’s Water Institute will produce a report from the data collected that will give a snapshot of local water quality. This report will be sent to all volunteer groups.
What is measured in the Waterblitz?
Citizen scientists taking part in the WaterBlitz will test for the nutrients: nitrate and phosphate. These nutrients are the most common pollutants in European waters.
They are also asked to observe algae, land use and levels of litter at their chosen waterway.
Nitrates found in water are often lost from fertiliser spread on the land. When washed into our watercourses and waterbodies, they can cause a process of eutrophication, which leads previously healthy lakes or rivers to become choked with algae, severely depleting water-dissolved oxygen, resulting in the elimination of other forms of aquatic life.
Phosphates are commonly found in water following the use of fertilisers and detergents. They can also come from domestic sewage and are a major source of water pollution. Like nitrates, phosphates encourage the growth of algae.
Speaking about the project, Dr. Susan Hegarty said
“When citizens monitor the quality of their local water bodies, they contribute vital information about the health of our waterways and help the understanding of environmental pressures. The value of this cannot be underestimated.
We have a limited amount of freshwater on this planet – this water is a valuable resource which is increasingly under threat, and yet is vital for life on Earth. What I love about the WaterBlitz is that it enables people to measure nutrients in their local river, stream, pond or lake. That local measurement is then compared to other measurements in the region, and nationally, to build a picture of the health of our waterways.”
Liz Gabbot from the Maigue Rivers Trust, who took part in the 2021 WaterBlitz said
“Taking part in the WaterBlitz gave the Maigue Rivers Trust the confidence to launch our own citizen science freshwater monitoring project. We are very grateful for the excellent support from the DCU Water Institute.
I would highly recommend getting involved. The sampling is very easy for anyone to do.”
Thomas Carolan, Community Water Officer with the Local Authority Waters Programme said
“LAWPRO is delighted to be supporting the WaterBlitz this year. It’s a fantastic opportunity for local communities to learn about their local water bodies and the importance of good water quality for biodiversity and our health and wellbeing.”
About DCU Water Institute
The DCU Water Institute is a centre of excellence in water research. It works in partnership with stakeholders across academia, industry, agency and society in its research to develop solutions to national and global water-related problems. It specialises in technology developments across science, engineering and computer science domains with strong communications focus and policy and business drivers. These areas are reflected in its academic members, who come from all five faculties of DCU.
About Earthwatch and the WaterBlitz
Earthwatch’s mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. The WaterBlitz is a FreshWater Watch activity for the whole community. The data collected by hundreds of people over this same time period gives a comparable snapshot of water health within a region. The WaterBlitz has run in Ireland, the UK (in the Thames Valley and Bristol Avon catchment areas) France, Luxembourg, Italy and Sweden.
Notes to Editor
Dr. Susan Hegarty is available for interview.
(L-R) Roy O’Connor, Senior Engineer, Protection of Water Bodies Office, Dublin City Council, Thomas Carolan, Local Authorities Water Programme, Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting Met Eireann and Dr Susan Hegarty, DCU Water Institute, at the launch of the 2022 WaterBlitz.