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River Thame Conservation Trust - September 2018

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Earlier in the year, individuals, groups and communities were enlisted to find clean, unpolluted water in the River Thame Catchment as part of the Clean Water Quest survey.

During May and June, volunteers collected and tested water samples from over 450 sites across the catchment, from the River Thame itself as it meanders its way past Aylesbury to Dorchester on Thames, and its surrounding waterbodies, headwaters, streams and ponds.  Volunteers used simple test kits to measure the levels of two widespread nutrient pollutants, nitrate and phosphate.   

The findings revealed high levels of both nitrate and phosphate across all habitat types.  However, despite the many pressures on the landscape, clean water could still be found, with 16% of sites being free of pollution.  Of those sites, almost three quarters were ponds.  Clean water was also found in the running water, but it was concentrated in the headwaters, particularly where they rise in semi-natural habitat, such as woodland.  If you would like to view the results in more detail, please visit 

The Clean Water Quest survey has highlighted the importance of smaller waters in providing clean unpolluted water, essential for much of our wildlife, and how vital it is to extend this clean water network. This can be achieved through clean water pond creation, and can be as simple as creating a rain water fed garden pond or as grand as a creating a large wetland complex. Big or small, all clean water creation is valuable.

It is only through the power of citizen science that this extensive survey could be undertaken.  If you would like to take part in future water quality testing, and contribute to improvements in the water quality of our local river, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.