Clean Water for Wildlife

25th February 2016

Freshwater Habitats Trust is launching Clean Water for Wildlife, a nationwide survey to find out about the extent of nutrient pollution in freshwater habitats – ponds, lakes, rivers, streams and ditches.

Freshwater wildlife needs clean unpolluted water to survive. Sadly, it only takes a little pollution to damage habitats like streams and ponds, and to harm the most sensitive plants and animals that call these places home.

With your help, the Clean Water for Wildlife survey aims to find the hidden gems – places which are free from pollution and where wildlife still thrives. The survey also aims to discover for the first time, the true extent of nutrient pollution facing freshwater wildlife today.

Why do we need to do the survey?

Although government agencies monitor pollution in our larger rivers, streams and lakes, we know nothing about nutrient pollution in 99% of our ponds, streams, ditches and other freshwater habitats, where so much of our fantastic freshwater wildlife lives.

Clean Water for Wildlife test kit

How will we collect the water quality results?

Until recently, the only way to find out about nutrient levels in water has been to do expensive laboratory tests. But in the last few years simple reliable kits have become available.

With these kits, we can all ‘see’ nutrient pollution: quickly, easily and inexpensively for the first time. Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Thames Water, ValPak and the Environment Agency, the project aims to create a map of water quality from over 10,000 freshwaters in England and Wales.

To do this we will supply volunteers with free water quality testing kits. These kits measure the levels of nitrate and phosphate, pollutants that pose a major risk to wildlife, and will uncover the best and most unpolluted local freshwaters.

We’re recruiting volunteers now . . .

In 2016 we are looking for volunteer groups who would like to undertake the survey in their neighbourhood. So far, we have recruited volunteers from a wide range of initiatives including existing conservation volunteer groups,

Clean Water for Wildlife water sampling

friends of groups, catchment groups, community groups and species recording groups. But remember, the kits don’t require any previous experience, so we’d be keen to hear from other groups who have an interest in their local environment, for example, the Woman’s Institute, Guide and Scout groups, allotment associations, fishing clubs . . . in fact any groups with an interested in finding out about their local freshwaters!

In 2017 we’ll be looking for even more groups, but also any keen individuals who’d be able to survey 10 sites or more and school groups (Key Stage 2) who would be interested in doing this as a classroom and homework exercise. We are currently developing a study pack which will include all the information school groups need.

Sign up!

If you’d like more information or want to sign up to receive your free kits and information pack please contact Laura on