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The role of citizen science in the campaign to designate UK’s first official river bathing water

Author(s): Rick Battarbee 

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Keywords: Hydrolink; Citizen Science; River Wharfe; bathing water; Yorkshire; Rick Battarbee 

Abstract: This article describes the citizen science project that helped establish a stretch of the River Wharfe in Yorkshire as the first running water site in the United Kingdom (UK) to be designated as a bathing water. The objective was to raise local awareness about the impact of sewage discharges on faecal bacteria concentrations in the river as it flows through the small town of Ilkley. With funds from local councils and charities we conducted surveys of Escherichia coli abundance along the river. It was shown that high faecal bacteria concentrations were not only caused by discharges of untreated sewage but also by treated effluents and by runoff from agricultural land. As a designated bathing water, the Environment Agency is now required to monitor the site, identify specific pollution sources, and put in place control measures.


Year: 2022

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