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. These highlight just two of many challenges the river faces.

Through Thames River Watch, we are helping people understand what is happening in their river and how they play a crucial role in protecting it. To do this, we are empowering the community by training volunteers in carrying out water quality testing and litter monitoring. 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.

See the results of Thames River Watch so far by clicking here.

The latest publication of our results (July 2016) can be downloaded here.

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.

Be Part of Thames River Watch

Our efforts need to continue and strengthen to better understand the issues affecting the tidal Thames. 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; and this is where you can get involved!

We empower:

  • 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.

To join a training session, please register here.

If you have already registered, simply fill in the training booking form here.


What does the training entail? 

To ensure you are equipped and an official part of the Thames River Watch, we provide you with free traininThames21_HSmithLitter_CHL-29_webg 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.

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

Contact us

If you have any questions please contact:

Alice Hall on 07554 402772

A.J. McConville on 07585 302624



Thames River Watch is generously funded by Tideway.