How to test river water quality

River pic

Testing the quality of river water typically involves collecting samples of the water and then analyzing them for various parameters. Here are some steps you can follow to test the quality of river water:

  1. Identify the parameters to be tested: There are many parameters that can be tested to determine the quality of river water. Some of the common ones include pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, total dissolved solids, fecal coliform bacteria, and nutrient levels.
  2. Obtain sampling equipment: You will need to obtain sampling equipment to collect water samples. This may include a container for collecting the water, such as a plastic bottle, as well as instruments for measuring temperature and other parameters.
  3. Choose sampling locations: Select locations along the river where you will collect water samples. Ideally, these locations should be representative of the different parts of the river and the types of activities taking place there.
  4. Collect water samples: Using your sampling equipment, collect water samples from each location. Be sure to label each sample with the location and the date and time it was collected.
  5. Analyze the water samples: Use appropriate methods to analyze the water samples for the parameters you have selected. Some tests can be done on site, while others may require laboratory analysis. There are water testing kits available that can help you perform some of the basic tests.
  6. Interpret the results: Once you have the results of your water quality tests, you can interpret them to determine the overall quality of the river water. Compare the results to established standards and guidelines to see if they fall within acceptable ranges.
  7. Take action: Based on the results of your testing, you may need to take action to address any issues with the water quality. This could involve working with local authorities to reduce pollution or taking steps to improve water treatment processes.

How to test river water quality by looking at the invertebrates

The presence and abundance of certain invertebrate species can be used as indicators of river water quality. This method of testing is called the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) score. Here are the general steps to follow when testing river water quality by looking at the invertebrates:

  1. Collect invertebrate samples: Use a kick net or a D-frame net to collect invertebrate samples from the river. Be sure to collect samples from multiple locations and depths to get a more accurate representation of the water quality.
  2. Sort and identify the invertebrates: Sort the invertebrates into different groups and identify them using a taxonomic key. Note the abundance of each species.
  3. Calculate the BMWP score: Use the abundance data to calculate the BMWP score for the sample. The BMWP score is calculated by assigning a score to each invertebrate species based on its tolerance to pollution, and then summing up the scores for all the species present. The BMWP score ranges from 1 (very poor water quality) to 10 (excellent water quality).
  4. Interpret the results: Interpret the results by comparing the BMWP score to local water quality standards or national guidelines. A lower BMWP score indicates poor water quality, while a higher BMWP score indicates good water quality.
  5. Draw conclusions and make recommendations: Draw conclusions from the results and make recommendations for how to improve the water quality if necessary. For example, if the BMWP score indicates poor water quality, it may be necessary to reduce pollution or implement measures to improve the ecological health of the river.

It is important to note that the BMWP score method is just one tool for assessing river water quality and should be used in conjunction with other testing methods, such as chemical analysis and physical measurements. Additionally, it is important to have a good understanding of the local invertebrate community and their tolerances to pollution in order to accurately interpret the results.

This video, from the Exmoor National Park, shows how to test river water quality in the river Lyn by looking at the invertebrates that live in the river. This shows  how clean this river is. To take the sample three palm size stones are taken from the river and washed in a net. Then all of the invertebrates are observed and counted.  


How to test water quality by looking at the chemical water quality characteristics

Chesapeake Bay Foundation educator, Claire Cambardella shows how to test river water quality by carrying out tests to check the chemical water quality characteristics of the local stream. 


Resources: How to test river water quality with test strips 

Test strips are a quick and easy way to test certain parameters of river water quality. Here are some general steps to follow when using test strips to test river water quality:

  1. Choose the appropriate test strips: There are many different types of test strips available for testing river water quality. Be sure to select test strips that are appropriate for the parameters you want to test, such as pH, nitrates, or chlorine.
  2. Collect water samples: Collect water samples from the river in a clean container. Make sure the container is free from contaminants that could interfere with the test results.
  3. Dip the test strip: Dip the test strip into the water sample for the specified amount of time. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for the correct dipping time and depth.
  4. Wait for the reaction: After removing the test strip from the water sample, wait for the specified amount of time for the reaction to occur. The test strip will change color based on the parameter being tested.
  5. Compare the results: Compare the color of the test strip to the color chart provided with the test strip kit. The color chart will show the range of values for the parameter being tested.
  6. Record the results: Record the results of the test on a data sheet or notebook. Make sure to note the date, time, and location of the sample collection, as well as the results of the test.
  7. Interpret the results: Interpret the results based on the guidelines for the parameter being tested. If the test results fall outside of the acceptable range, this may indicate a problem with the river water quality.

Test strips are a quick and easy way to test river water quality, but keep in mind that they may not provide as accurate or comprehensive results as laboratory analysis. If you need more detailed information on the water quality, it is recommended to use more precise testing methods, such as laboratory analysis.

These test strips can be used for measuring the water quality in rivers and other water sources.

river orange trees

Campaigning to improve river water quality

Campaigning to improve river water quality can be an effective way to raise awareness and encourage action on this important issue. Here are some steps you can take to campaign for better river water quality:

  1. Research the issue: Start by researching the current state of the river water quality and the factors that are contributing to pollution. This will help you identify the key issues and challenges that need to be addressed.
  2. Define your goals: Determine what you want to achieve through your campaign, such as reducing pollution levels, increasing public awareness, or advocating for policy changes.
  3. Identify your target audience: Determine who you want to reach with your campaign, such as local residents, government officials, or industry leaders.
  4. Develop a message: Craft a clear and compelling message that will resonate with your target audience. Your message should highlight the importance of clean river water and the impact that pollution can have on human health, the environment, and local communities.
  5. Choose your tactics: Identify the tactics you will use to reach your target audience, such as social media, public events, or letter writing campaigns. You may also want to partner with local organizations or experts to help you spread your message.Take action: 
  6. Launch your campaign and start taking action to achieve your goals. This could include organizing community clean-up events, hosting educational workshops, or advocating for policy changes at the local or national level.
  7. Measure your impact: Track your progress and measure your impact over time. This will help you determine what is working and where you need to make adjustments to your campaign.

Remember that campaigning for better river water quality is a long-term process, and it may take time to see significant changes. However, with persistence and a clear message, you can make a difference and help to protect our rivers for future generations.