Plymouth University Student Lucie shares her placement experience of water quality monitoring within the Plymouth River Keepers (PRK) catchment.

“In April, on placement at Westcountry Rivers Trust, I joined the monitoring team on an outing to the Tamerton Foliot catchment on the north-west outskirts of Plymouth.

“The aim of the day has been to sample the water quality of the streams for a project enabling people who live in the surrounding communities to take greater interest in their local waterways.

“As part of my day shadowing the team, I saw how general stream health was being monitored at eleven different locations across the river catchment.


“I learnt how to use sampling equipment to measure phosphate, dissolved solids, turbidity and temperature. In addition, I learnt how to read the setting so that the sample taken is most representative of each site.

“We talked about ways the monitoring data can be used to build a picture of what is going on in the river over time. This informs target interventions and helps to problem solve the most pressing issues, which in this case may be litter, nutrient pollution and greywater misconnections.

Access to nature

“The river is crucial to supporting the ecosystems that branch out across this area of the city, with local nature reserves and woods dispersed in valleys between the urban housing estates. By visiting, I experienced the tranquillity these green spaces provide first-hand. I could see the potential of each place in providing valuable access to nature and a multitude of benefits to the people who live nearby.

“It was great to be able to see the reality of the job of a river scientist, scrambling across riverbanks and orientating the river catchment. The team showed me how important it is to follow the science to inform evidence-based decisions. I can now more fully appreciate how valuable it is for the river trusts to have eyes on the ground too. I’m excited to see what’s next for Plymouth River Keepers – thank you for having me along.”