Floating robot labs helping communities to protect rivers
The INTCATCH project is a partnership between 20 organisations from seven European countries, including Thames21 and the Environment Agency. It aims to revolutionise the way we monitor water quality in river and lakes, making it easier to combat the many pollution pressures they face.
It will do this by bringing the laboratory to the field – developing and testing floating ‘robot labs’ in the form of remote-controlled boats and fixed sensors. The boats will use probes and have robust, highly accurate technology to test the water for known problem substances.
Water quality monitoring strategies have not significantly changed in years. They still usually involve an officer going to site and sending a sample to a lab, where tests are run with the results available two or three weeks later. This approach can help map local pollution but has limited impact in improving water quality across a larger area.
IntCatch aims to fill this gap.
The three-year INTCATCH research project measures water quality in different ways in various places across Europe, running from 2017 – 2020. It is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Where it’s happening
Over the next three years, we’re going to be testing this technology on four river catchments; the Pinn, Uxbridge; the Salmons Brook, Enfield; the Hogsmill in Epsom and Ewell and Kingston and the canal network in Thamesmead. We will train volunteers to use the boats and tools– so if you live or work in these areas, come and join us!
Do you want to cut pollution in your local river?
Thames21 has become involved because of our reputation working closely with communities and citizen scientists who want to clean up and protect their rivers.
The floating labs offer huge benefits for rivers and local communities who care about them and want to stop localised pollution. Rather than relying on experts, ordinary citizens will be able to use the boats to collect research evidence themselves and find out just how healthy their local river is.
The sensors and boats will be linked to user-friendly online decision support software to help communities and authorities make decisions about when, where and how to best help the river.
Together we’ll map the pollution problem like never before
Our rivers are still far more polluted than they should be. Heavy metals leak into them through storm water from roads, and waste water and sewage from misconnected plumbing and pipes. Rural rivers suffer from sediment, pesticides and nutrients.
We know these problems exist, but until now it’s been difficult to pinpoint and access all the pollution sources. The waterways network in the Thames basin is massive and, even with the help of citizen scientists, it’s very difficult to monitor the network properly, let alone in real time.
This project aims to change all that. We hope you can join us!
Get in touch
We’ll be recruiting volunteers later this year. To express your interest, email email@example.com
For media enquiries, contact: Ian Lamont: ian.lamont@Thames21.org.uk or call 07739 627 667.
Partners include the Environment Agency and Brunel University, click here for full list.
Want to learn more about your stretch of river?
We run free 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.