Thames River Watch: protecting the Thames

The river Thames is a fantastic resource to be celebrated and enjoyed. But it needs our protection.

It faces sewage pollution, the growing problem of plastic waste, toxic chemicals from roads, invasive plants and the impact of drought and flooding. These dangers don’t just impact the Thames and its wildlife. They threaten us too; our quality of life and our city’s prosperity.

Despite the huge impact of plastic on the river, there is no statutory plastic monitoring. The award-winning Thames River Watch programme fills that gap.

Read our latest report highlighting the impact of plastic on the river.

Thames River Watch gives us a way to come together as Londoners and communities to protect and monitor the health of the river Thames. It does this by training Londoners to capture vital information on Thames water quality and the types of waste that is collecting on the foreshore.

Together we are creating a far larger data set than would be possible otherwise and are contributing vital data to the existing understanding of the Thames’ health.

This data is enabling us, alongside others, to campaign for its better protection. Our latest reports have helped to raise awareness about the issue of plastic packaging in the river and build the case for action.

Become a citizen scientist with us

You do not need any prior knowledge as our free one day training course covers everything you need to know. All we ask is for you to commit to monitor the River Thames at least six times in the year after your training.

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.

Due to lockdown restrictions, we’re planning to offer our training partly online and partly on the foreshore while maintaining social distancing. If you are interested in signing up for future trainings you can register your interest here.

Thames River Watch empowers:

  • Individuals through water quality and waste monitoring trainings;
  • Community groupsrecreational groups and youth organisations with bespoke trainings;
  • Primary and secondary schools in close proximity to the Thames with an outdoor learning experience.

In a joint project, our Thames River Watch project data is used in the #OneLess campaign which is aimed at reducing London’s single-use plastic footprint and tackling ocean plastic pollution at source. It does this in many ways including by:

  •  Influencing people to change behaviour by using a refillable water bottle
  •  Influencing the Mayor’s decision to install water drinking fountains across London
  • Encouraging workplaces to remove plastic water bottles from workplaces, venues, shops and supply chains

If you have any questions about Thames River Watch please email:

Want to learn more about your stretch of river?

We run ncfe accredited training days to help people learn about rivers in London, and how to run safe enjoyable clean-up events on them. We can also teach you how to boost river health through creating green spaces and removing invasive species.


Thames River Watch is generously funded by Tideway.