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Drinkable Rivers Hubs Newsletter #2020#1

Drinkable Rivers citizen science for and by the hub community

Published onOct 05, 2020
Drinkable Rivers Hubs Newsletter #2020#1

Dear Drinkable Rivers citizen science hubs, dear partners and affiliates,

Since Spring this year Drinkable Rivers became an official foundation! In this very first hubs community newsletter created in, I am happy to share general Drinkable Rivers news of work in progress or done. Together with you all we are building the Drinkable Rivers citizen science community that learns, is alive and thrives.

In the past months we continued to organise river walks & talks, although with the Corona circumstances a lot has been postponed or cancelled.

Coming: a book and a movie

Currently, I am writing a book on Drinkable Rivers together with Maarten van der Schaaf and publisher Atlas Contact. We hope it will be published in Spring 2021. If you know interested publishers in your country, feel free to connect them with me.

The three-part series that was broadcasted in the Netherlands Mar/Apr-2020 will now be turned into a 90-min international documentary that will be translated into English, French, and German. I hope to also include other translations in the near future. The below trailer, has been translated into French by one of our hubs. Feel free to add your translation to the subtitles.

Drinkbare Maas trailer (2020) - Documentaire Film

Mayors network

The Mayors for a Drinkable Meuse network will meet in Namur Belgium in Nov/2020 for a second time after the launching event in France Oct/19. This river basin network has inspired the worldwide 'Mayors for Drinkable Rivers' and has been adopted by the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) as a new so-called 'Amsterdam Agreement'. The kick-off to AIWW2021 was 1st of October here we launched the agreement ‘Mayors for Drinkable Rivers’. Christopher Gasson, from Global Water Intelligence wrote a report which you can read here. How can we mobilise a watershed towards drinkable rivers? How can municipalities be the carrier for this? What partners can support the mayors in doing so? Find more about both networks here.

I look forward to hearing from you and your organisations and how you reflect on being a Drinkable Rivers citizen science hub for almost a year now.

Warm wishes,

Li An Phoa, founder Drinkable Rivers

Drinkable Rivers Calendar


What will happen

1 October 2020

AIWW Focus Event (online English, video soon)

4 October 2020

Stoutenburg Talk (online Dutch)

14 - 15 October 2020

Citizen Science SDG Conference - Douro Hub presentation

20 November 2020

Premiere film Drinkable Meuse in Namen/Namur, Belgium

20-21 November 2020

Mayors for a Drinkable Meuse in Namen/Namur (Belgium)

21 March 2021 (approximately)

Book Release: Drinkable Rivers (Dutch)

Citizen Science Activities

By Sandra de Vries, PULSAQUA for Drinkable Rivers

For the Drinkable Rivers citizen science activities I have been assisting Li An now for quite some time. In the past half year, we have been working on several things, of which I’d like to highlight two for now.

All Schools Unite

Drinkable Rivers & AlleScholenVerzamelen! impression (In Dutch)

This Spring, we have developed an ecology module, an additional methodology next to the chemical one that is know by you hubs. By observing dragonflies and water plants we attempt to assess the quality of our rivers. In partnership with all science nodes in the Netherlands, with a project called 'All Schools Unite' (AlleScholenVerzamelen!) we invited primary schools throughout the Netherlands to join taking measurements on 15 May 2020.

We bundled the results in this online magazine, but since it is in Dutch I will highlight some here:

Relation between perceived water ambience (bottom to top: nice, normal, other, bad), and the measured clarity depth with a Secchi disk.

Relation between the average spotted dragonfly (Y-axis), and the coverage [%] of floating water plants.

We were on the Dutch children news and they held a voting for which 15020 children responded to and 82% responded positive: ‘Helping scientists with research is fun!

We also reached several other national radio and other media. We thank all the people and organisations who have helped us achieve this. In case you are interested in duplicating these efforts in your own country, send us an email ([email protected]) and we can see how to expand and translate.

Next year, on the 28th of May we will do this throughout the Netherlands again, hopefully this time without corona difficulties.

Drinkable Rivers for the SDGs

Together with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Li An and I are working towards a roll out of the Drinkable Rivers citizen science methodology outside Europe in order to work towards drinkable rivers and help countries monitor and achieve United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 6. We are still in the process of setting up the project, once we have started, we will let you know how things progress.

Below we would like to feature experiences, activities and results from the hubs part of the Drinkable Rivers hubs community. This time, the Rotta and Douro hubs have shared something with us.

For the next newsletter, we will request two other hubs to share their activities here. In case you would like to share yours, please let us know ([email protected]). In that way we can share your experiences, photos and other things too!

Drinkable Rivers hubs community

Welcoming new hubs

In the last months we have received interest from different organisations to become new citizen science hubs. The River Collective with founder Vera Knook will join. They have taken their first measurement with the Drinkable Rivers Measurement Kit during World Rivers Day, and Natuurlijk IJburg has joined as well after Li An’s walk along the IJmeer 5th of June 2020!

Welcome to all of you!

In the coming months we will be working on improving the communication possibilities between the hubs, also in order to know what everybody is doing and what everyone’s challenges and achievements are. More to come!

Rotta Hub, the Netherlands

By Jan Smith en Cees van der Burg, Rotta Hub for Drinkable Rivers

We do our research between the Rotte River and the Schie Canal, as project group of two nature societies in that region. In the initial newsletter we already reported about the physical and chemical surveys Drinkable Rivers-style we so eagerly like to carry out in our area that is covered with hundreds of greenhouses. Improving the surface water quality in our area is for us the most important reason for joining. It is often of bad quality, as a consequence of high emissions of nutrients and pesticides. Such water quality obstructs the possibility of good ecological development of the area. Years of governmental efforts have been made to decrease such emissions. They only monitor the greater waterbodies unfortunately, while 85% of our water lies in smaller waterbodies like ditches and small canals.

How we aim to reach impact with our measurements

As part of the Drinkable Rivers community we can work on an awareness increase and our own goals, to which it add very well. It has brought our projectgroup among others a connection with experts and scientists that can assist us with a good methodology for fieldmeasurements. This year we have for example improved our own measurements to ensure that the fysical and chemical monitoring can be compared with EU Water Framework Directive.

We started monitoring swimming water locations where the Waterboard is planning to take measures against blue algae. We are actively trying to get into contact with these waterboards, to convince them that their solution to insert metals (Lanthaan) to decrease algae bloom. See below the news article written about our activities against this.

We furthermore wrote a letter to the political party for the animals here in the Netherlands to make them aware of the situation.

Including ecological surveys

Our projectgroup participates in many interesting investigations concerning water quality for which we always seek as much publicity as possible for the good cause of Drinkable Rivers. Lately we’ve taken up aquatic ecological surveys which we all consider as a personal learning process. It’s a great pass-time and wonderful to do.  

A couple of weeks ago we were asked to perform an insitu aquatic monitoring in several waterways in an area that will become a complete new suburb with some 1600 odd new houses. We considered this survey to be a so-called zero-measurement – an initial qualification and quantification of the overall aquatic biodiverity. Of course this was done in combination with the normal procedure of physical testing DR-style.


‘Nosing around’. This time we sat down and took several water samples, put them in a white bowl and started the assessment.

We were happily surpised to see a great number of macro-invertebrates of various kinds. There where lots of different Daphnia of course, but also a great deal of dragonfly larva stages both juvenile and grown-ups, varying in many colours. We were not able to make a proper count of the nervousl;y swimming and swirling Common Backswimmers (Notonecta glauca), they were litterally countless. The diversity in our watersamples transcended all of our expectations. We counted many Trichoptera, the larvae stadium of Glyphotaelius pellucidus with its substratum preference which includes particulate organic matter and plant material. An astonishing appearance it is, certainly when we catched several tens of them all together.

Sample containing 7 Chameleon Shrimps,  9 Trichoptera and 1 snail. It was heartwarming to see so many of the little monsters so close in front of our noses.

The other day we catched a couple of unknown species. None of us was able to identiy the very small creatures that were no longer than some 10 millimeters.

We turned to a fieldbiologist  at Radboud university in Nijmegen for help. He requested some samples to be posted for precise determination.

Today we received notice from the lab that it concerns Chameleon Shrimps -more precisely Limnomysis benedeni Czerniavsky, 1882. It is a freshwater shrimp originating form the Ponto-Caspian Sea area and thus being a typical example of an introduced or exotic species from the Black Sea area. There is very little knowledge of these creatures which are able to alter the colour of their skin from almost transparant to pitch black, although they commonly appear as yellow creatures. Generally they live in coastal waters, sometimes also in brackish water, but it is very rare to detect those little buggers in a freshwater environment in The Netherlands.

It is a very important discovery after all and it certainly will be reported tot the Dutch National Database called Moreover we certainly will emphasize the importance of this finding to the Community Council which is responsible for the overall construction and demand precise precautions concerning the preservation of this aqutic creature.

In about two years we certainly will return to monitor the water in het area again and compare it with this very exciting zero-measurement.

Douro Hub, Portugal

By the team of Plataforma de Ciência Aberta - Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Douro Hub Drinkable Rivers

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in Barca D'Alva, the last village along the Douro river before crossing the border to Spain. ‘When a rooster sings in Barca D’Alva it is heard in three districts and two countries’, people say.

Sit in the margin of Douro and contemplate the soft valley of schist, covered by wild oaks, vineyards, olive, almond and orange groves, where nature is calling at every burst of sound or scent.

Village of Barca D'Alva and the international part of the Douro river

The village of Barca D'Alva, a cluster of houses and welcoming people immersed in the protected Natural Park of International Douro, is also the location of the last Portuguese pier of the tourist cruises route that navigate the Douro river. In 2019, Barca D'Alva was the entry point for over 130,000 tourists from across the globe.

Such touristic pressure has been causing an impact on urban waste management and on the pollution of watercourses due to discharges of wastewater and fuel.

The traffic of tourist cruises in the Douro river

As Douro Hub we want to understand how the water quality of the Douro river may be impacted by river tourism, while simultaneously raising awareness and stimulating action towards the local community, with a strong focus on schools.

For that, we have been carrying out river water analyses, at least once a month, to gather representative data of the high and low seasons of Douro cruises traffic. In each session, we collect samples from 7 sampling points, upstream and downstream of the main pier, which we are considering as the focal point of pollution.

So far, 13 analysis sessions have been held, involving 88 participants, including school and local community, firefighters and policy makers. Very interestingly, this initiative has been attracting great interest from the regional, national and international (regional Spanish press) media.

Our Drinkable Rivers partners: students, teachers, firefighters, policy-makers

Towards sustainability: partnerships for the goals

To ensure sustainability of the project as well as scientific impact, we are currently establishing partnerships with Portuguese academic institutions and research groups working on water quality.

In particular, we have initiated a discussion with the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro to plan how the Drinkable Rivers project could be integrated in the curricula of Bachelor's and Master degrees. In addition, we are currently applying for a national grant in partnership with the University of Aveiro aimed at developing a community strategy to ensure an eco-efficient and sustainable management of the watercourses.

Importantly, we are also developing educational resources under the umbrella of healthy water resources, where the objective is to transform experimental activities that already exist in the school curriculum into more research-driven activities with strong links to the surrounding territory, thus providing more meaningful learning experiences. On October 17th, we will be organizing a teacher training session under this topic, for Life Science and Biology teachers.

Finally, this month, on October 15th, we are giving a talk at the SDG Citizen Science Conference. This made us quite happy, since it will be a great opportunity to talk, not only about the Douro Hub work, but very importantly of the entire Drinkable Rivers network.

Drinkable Rivers - Monitoring water quality in the Douro river through Citizen Science

Video presentation for the Conference of the Portuguese Association of Science & Technology Communication (May 2020)

The Municipality of Figueira de Castelo is a partner of the EU-Citizen Science project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under grant agreement No. 824580

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