Thames River Watch FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Thames River Watch

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Who is Thames River Watch looking to engage?
Thames River Watch engages local residents, schools, community groups, resident associations and riverside businesses along the tidal Thames from Teddington Lock in the west to Sheppey Island in Kent and Southend-on-Sea in Essex. We enable local people like you to become ‘Citizen Scientists’ by providing training on how to undertake monitoring surveys along the river.

I don’t really know anything about water and the Thames – can I still get involved?
Absolutely! You don’t need to know anything about water or the Thames, as we will make sure you receive the training (and equipment) you need. You just need to be keen to make a difference for the River Thames and have some time at hand.

What is monitored as part of Thames River Watch?
Thames River Watch has focused to date on monitoring water quality, invasive non-native species, and litter. As the project develops there will be scope to increase the range of monitoring topics to also include other areas of interest.

This sounds great – how can become a Thames River Watch citizen science volunteer?
Becoming a Thames River Watch volunteer is simple. You attend the introductory training, which gives you everything you need to carry out tests of the water quality. Then with our help, you locate a Thames location that is convenient for you and decide how often you can test. Most volunteers test every fortnight but the amount of time you commit is up to you.

Once trained, you will receive a bi-monthly newsletter which contains information about additional training that we offer, such as monitoring litter and invasive non-native species. You will also receive information about the annual Big Count and other volunteering opportunities.

To attend this training, you will need to register with the training programme and select a session that you are available for.

How do local partners get involved in the project?
We are very keen to work with partners such as resident associations, community groups, youth associations, environmental education centres and local businesses. We ask that at least one person from the organisation attends our training. This person could then co-ordinate monitoring activity within their group. If a large group is interested, we could offer bespoke training to the organisation.

Can I see the data that has been collected as part of Thames River Watch?
Yes! All Thames River Watch data can be viewed through our interactive maps. We have separate maps for water quality, invasive non-native species, and litter.  You can also view our project report from the end of the first year which summarises the data collected and what this tells us about the health of the tidal Thames.

What is the Big Count?
The Big Count is our annual event in which we invite hundreds of local people to take part in collecting data on the health of the Thames. The event is designed to raise the profile of the health of the river through uniting volunteers in a large-scale practical activity across the tidal Thames – from Teddington Lock to Southend-on-Sea. The results of the data gathered over the previous year of the project are reviewed and made publically available. This includes working with experts to explore the patterns that the data reveal and suggesting improvements that could be made to enhance the health of the tidal Thames. In 2015, The Big Count took place between the 19th and 23rd February.

I am interested in the education work of Thames River Watch – can you tell me more?
We are looking for schools to become Thames Observatories – which would record regular observations on their local river environment. We are also developing new curriculum-linked materials for primary and secondary schools. This will include activities delivered in the classroom and sites visits to the foreshore investigating human impacts on the river.

If you know of a school (particularly one in a neighbouring Borough of the tidal Thames) that may wish to be involved, get in touch!

I’d like to help by cleaning up the Thames foreshore – when is your next event?
Details of all Thames River Watch events can be found on our calendar. At these events you can help us to clean up litter, get a taster for our monitoring activities and find out more about the project. Bring your family and friends along too – everyone is welcome.

Does Thames River Watch work in partnership with other organisations?
Thames River Watch is keen to work with partners along the tidal Thames. We have at least five different types of partners that we would really like to work with:

  • EXPERT PARTNER – supporting us with your expertise – existing expert partners include the Environment Agency, the Port of London Authority and London Invasive Species Initiative.
  • EDUCATION PARTNER – helping us to create links between education providers across the Thames – existing education partners include Creekside Education Trust and the Thames Explorer Trust.
  • SCHOOL PARTNER – working with us to develop lasting links between a school and their local stretch of the tidal Thames – existing engaged schools include Kew Riverside and Bygrove Primary.
  • CORPORATE PARTNER – working with us through team foreshore events which incorporate river monitoring, or by providing us with pro bono support – existing corporate partners include MEC Global and Ford Dagenham.
  • CHARITY PARTNER – working together to increase awareness of projects, and improve project delivery through shared understanding along the tidal Thames – existing charity partners include the RSPB at Rainham Marshes, Marine Conservation Society and Thames Estuary Partnership.

If you work for an organisation and would be interested in partnering with Thames River Watch then we would love to hear from you, please get in touch.

Thames River Watch started in July 2013 and was launched to the public on 17th February 2014.

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