Citizen scientists filling knowledge gaps of phosphate pollution dynamics in rural areas

Loiselle, Steven; Bishop, Isabel; Moorhouse, Heather; Pilat, Caroline; Koelman, Eline; Nelson, Rosie; Clymans, Wim; Pratt, John; Lewis, Vaughn. 2024 Citizen scientists filling knowledge gaps of phosphate pollution dynamics in rural areas. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 196 (2), 220. 15, pp.

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In situ monitoring is fundamental to manage eutrophication in rivers and streams. However, in recent decades, the frequency and spatial coverage of regulatory monitoring have often been reduced due to funding and infrastructure limitations. This reduction has made it impossible to provide adequate coverage for most water bodies. In this study, trained citizen scientists filled spatial and temporal gaps in agency monitoring across a major catchment in rural England. By integrating data from citizen scientists, regulatory agencies, and the local water company, it was possible to demonstrate the opportunities for hypothesis-based citizen scientist monitoring to identify continuous and event-driven sources of phosphate pollution. Local citizen scientists effectively covered important spatial gaps, investigating river conditions both upstream and downstream of suspected pollution point sources, improving the identification of their temporal dynamics. When combined with long-term monitoring data from regulatory agencies, it became possible to identify areas within the catchment that exhibited increased phosphate concentrations during periods of low river discharge (summer). Inter-annual trends and anomaly detection suggested that continuous pollution sources dominated over event-driven sources in many sub-basins, allowing for the prioritisation of mitigation actions. This study highlights the opportunity for citizen scientists to fill gaps in regulatory monitoring efforts and contribute to the improved management of eutrophication in rural catchments.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0167-6369
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: nutrient pollution, citizen science, eutrophication, stream monitoring
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Data and Information
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Date made live: 09 Feb 2024 16:23 +0 (UTC)

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