Robert Courts MP joins citizen science water testing

Jack Perks

The local MP joined Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) staff and volunteers in a mass citizen science event testing water quality across the Thames area.

Robert Courts, MP for Witney and West Oxfordshire, took an active part using the free kits provided to volunteers as part of the Thames Waterblitz.

He met with other ‘water blitzers’ from BBOWT and the Windrush Against Sewage Pollution group to collect water samples at Combe and Witney from the River Evenlode and River Windrush respectively.

He tested these for levels of phosphates and nitrates – key aspects of water quality where high levels cause problems for wildlife. Results can help identify pollution sources or, even better, rarer clean water spots potentially offering refuge for species that are highly sensitive to water quality.

“It’s incredibly important that as we look for action, as we want to see our rivers in a better state, and our environment in a better state, that we have a good scientific understanding of what’s happening in order that we know what it is we have to do,” said Mr Courts.

“Remember how important our rivers are and get involved with your local groups because there’s a great deal you can do to help.”

Robert Courts MP with BBOWT's Kate Prudden

Robert Courts taking a water sample with BBOWT's Kate Prudden and a volunteer

BBOWT co-ordinates Catchment Partnership work for each of the River Windrush and the combined Rivers Cherwell and Ray.

“During this event BBOWT sampled ponds, rivers, and springs at nineteen points across four river catchments in Oxfordshire alone,” says Kate Prudden who leads the work for BBOWT.

“It is valuable information and a great way for the many volunteers involved to learn more about the waterbodies close to them and play an active role.”

The Thames WaterBlitz is co-ordinated by EarthWatch and funded by Thames Water. It is timed to coincide with tests carried out across the non-tidal River Thames area by scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

Waterblitz data sampling points and results are mapped and shared online so they are freely available for analysis. Better understanding the condition of our waterbodies and the impacts on them supports collaborative evidence-led initiatives to tackle problems.

The next Thames Waterblitz is in April 2020 and you can register now to get involved and help.