Great UK WaterBlitz

Great UK WaterBlitz

We’ve all heard about the poor condition of our rivers and streams due to issues with sewage and agricultural pollution. Environment Agency figures on storm overflow spills in 2023 show that spills were up by up 54% compared to 20221. Swimmers and surfers are protesting that rivers and seas are not safe to swim in, and of course the pollution is very damaging to aquatic wildlife.

In June I took part in the Great UK WaterBlitz, a citizen science project which provided a free kit to test for nutrient pollution (nitrates and phosphates), which is caused by both agricultural fertilisers and sewage effluent.

Carrying out the test was straightforward – I collected a little water from the brook in my village and followed the instructions in the kit. My sample showed evidence of nutrient pollution for both nitrate and phosphate. According to the report2 issued by Earthwatch on the project, this was fairly typical, with 75% of sites measured showing poor water quality.

Earthwatch are planning another WaterBlitz in September. This is an easy and effective way to add to the scientific data on water quality in this country. To take part, register at

If you don’t have a lake or stream near you, South Court Environmental (SCE) have offered use of their sites in Northampton, where there is a mixture of ponds and watercourses. It would be fascinating to test the various bodies of water on the SCE sites and compare the results, as well as providing some good input to the national project. If you are interested in participating in a ‘mini WaterBlitz’ with SCE, please get in touch.