Brought to you by our national organisation The Rivers Trust, and the wider Rivers Trust movement, everyone is invited to join the only UK and Ireland-wide citizen science survey of river health.

In the first Big River Watch in September 2023 more than 5,000 people took part across the UK and Ireland, 60% of whom were new to citizen science.

In our region, 311 surveys were returned, 172 of which recorded signs of pollution from sources such as road run-off, agriculture and sewage.

Between the 3rd and 6th May this year, we’d love to see even more of you contribute by recording your observations of your local river on the free, easy-to-use Big River Watch app.

The results will be made available through an interactive dashboard, and will help The Rivers Trust, local trusts such as ours, as well as individuals and communities who can all access the data, to take action to improve rivers both on-the-ground and via campaigns and advocacy.

river fowey at respryn bridge with treesJosie Purcell, Communications Manager at Westcountry Rivers Trust said: “We are delighted to keep seeing the growing passion for improving the health of our rivers.

“Our Westcountry CSI scheme, which started in 2016, is testament to that and having this wider opportunity to gather data about river health will underpin future work to protect freshwater habitats.”

Tessa Wardley, Director of Communication & Advocacy at The Rivers Trust, said a large set of data from one weekend will help the network’s experts to understand what’s going on in rivers, and what needs to be done to make them cleaner, healthier, and part of a thriving wider environment.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone, in every corner of our islands, to get to know their local river and enjoy spending some time on the riverbank.

“Each of our brilliant local Rivers Trusts work with their communities and partners, making these organisations a great place to go to learn about your river, as well as offering further volunteering or citizen science opportunities for you to support their protection and restoration. 

The Big River Watch is open to all, with no experience or training in citizen science required.

All people need to do is download the free Big River Watch app, spend 15 minutes by their local river and answer questions as prompted.

We want to build a complete picture of river health, and topics covered include the plants and wildlife people can see, as well as visible signs of pollution or observations on flow levels.

Data from the first iteration of the Big River Watch revealed 73% of people thought their river looked healthy, while The Rivers Trust’s recent State of Our Rivers Report 2024 showed that no stretch of river in England or Northern Ireland is in good overall health, with other nations of the UK and Ireland not performing much better.

This apparent disparity points to the complexity of assessing river health, as well as the need for more comprehensive monitoring to be done and made accessible to the public to aid their understanding.

To take part, download the app:






The survey will be open year-round and contribute to a database of river health covering the UK and Ireland.

H&S Big River Watch – health and safety advice when taking part in the Big River Watch.

To get involved in our region as a citizen scientist, go to Westcountry CSI.