A three year project delivered by Thames21. This citizen science project seeks to engage community groups, individuals, schools and riverside businesses along the tidal Thames from Teddington to the Thames Estuary. The project aims to raise awareness of the environmental issues that the river faces and enable people to provide pro-active support and involvement in improving the health of the tidal Thames. This project supports the Your Tidal Thames project which is part of the Catchment Based Approach to delivering the Water Framework Directive through active engagement of the local community.
The health of the tidal Thames is widely misunderstood. Some people see it as a ‘dirty old river’ – dead, polluted and to be ignored as much as possible. This perception is hard to overcome when floating litter persists and raw sewage flows into the water during heavy rain events. Some believe that the estuary is dirty because it’s brown instead of blue. However other people see the tidal Thames as a system that has fully recovered over the last 40 years and is now clean, an idea reinforced by media reports when the Thames won the International Theiss River Prize in 2010. The reality is somewhere in between. Thames River Watch seeks to tackle the challenge of helping Londoners better understand the tidal Thames.
Thames River Watch started in July 2013 when the initial focus was on developing the monitoring protocols and online data management system. In the remainder of 2013 work turned to developing the project brand and publicity materials, training sessions for volunteers and working with pilot groups to test and refine the delivery approach of the project. Since the launch of the project, in early 2014, Thames River Watch has been engaging Londoners in monitoring and understanding the health of the tidal Thames. The three areas that the project focuses on monitoring are water quality, litter and invasive non-native species. Thames River Watch delivers training to equip volunteers with skills to carry out regular monitoring of these areas - you can see all the results of the citizen science monitoring on the Thames21 website. The project also delivers clean-up and litter monitoring events which offer volunteers a one off oportunity to engage in the project. The education work of Thames River Watch with schools focuses on developing schools as 'Thames Observatories' - which record regular observations of their local stretch of the Thames. Each year Thames River Watch organises the Big Count event - which aims to examine the data collated through the project and seeks to raise the profile of the current state of the river Thames.