Thames River Watch

Our Thames River Watch programme is a citizen science project that captures vital information on litter and water quality issues in the tidal Thames – from Teddington all the way out to the estuary. The river is a catalyst for tourism, recreation and socio-economic opportunities, so gaining a better understanding of its health is paramount to ensuring a sustainable future where our communities can thrive on its banks and shorelines.trw page1

While the Thames has improved a lot since the 1960s, it still faces considerable challenges, both new and old. In 2015, together with the Port of London Authority, we cleared 300 tonnes of litter from the Thames.

On top of this, each year millions of tonnes of raw sewage is discharged into the river as our Victorian sewerage system struggles to cope with the pressures of modern London. The Thames Tideway Tunnel will tackle the problem of overflows from the capital’s sewers so it no longer enters the Thames.

These highlight just two of many challenges the river faces.

Through Thames River Watch, we are helping Londoners understand what is happening in their river and how they play a crucial role in protecting it. To do this, we empower citizens by training them to carry out water quality testing and litter monitoring. We want to record information on the quality and health of the water; we want to know where the litter is coming from and whether this issue is getting better or worse.

All the information collected from our dedicated network of volunteers helps build a library of information about the tidal Thames and informs actions to improve the river’s health.

Click here for the latest results of Thames River Watch litter monitoring, January 2017.

Become a citizen scientist with us
Between autumn 2016 and 2019 we are launching community hubs in Hammersmith, Battersea, the City of London and Greenwich/Isle of Dogs to act as focal points of activity for Thames research.

To become a volunteer you will attend a training course. We are currently booking a new set of training courses for 2017. To join a training session, please register first:  here. If you have already registered, simply fill in the training booking form here.

The next dates are below (all 10am to 4pm):

  • Tues 21 February 2017: Dorset Wharf, Hammersmith
  • Sat 21 May 2017: Dorset Wharf, Hammersmith
  • Sat 3 June 2017: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

More dates to be added soon.

What does the training entail? 

To ensure you are equipped and an official part of the Thames River Watch, we provide you with free trainingThames21_HSmithLitter_CHL-29_web in either litter monitoring or water quality monitoring.

You do not need any prior knowledge as our training covers everything you need to know. We ask you to commit to volunteering regularly to monitor the Thames at least six times in the year after your training.

Each training is a full day in locations throughout London and covers the story of London’s river, how to collect the data, accessing the foreshore safely and reporting findings to Thames21. All sessions are held indoors but culminate in a practical session on the foreshore.

What trainings are available?

Litter Monitoring – This training teaches how to record the litter in a consistent manner that allows us to compare reliable data year-on-year.

Water Quality Monitoring – Learn how to record key indicators such as dissolved oxygen, temperature and pH.

The Big CountPrint

On top of all this, we run a biannual campaign called The Big Count. Its aim is to get local people of all ages involved in monitoring the type and quantity of litter found washed up on the foreshores of the Thames. Find out more about the Big Count.

Click here for the latest results of Thames River Watch litter monitoring, January 2017

View the publication of our results from July 2016 here

Click here for the latest results of our Thames River Watch water quality monitoring.



Thames River Watch empowers:

  • Individuals through water quality and litter monitoring trainings;
  • Community groups, recreational groups and youth organisations with bespoke trainings;
  • Primary and secondary schools in close proximity to the Thames with an outdoor learning experience;
  • Businesses who wish to lead their own waterway clean ups.



Find out more about Thames River Watch in our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Contact us

If you have any questions please contact:

A.J. McConville on 07585 302624

Nick Beevers on 07554 402772



Thames River Watch is generously funded by Tideway.