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Drinkable Rivers

World’s first civil science of water quality of an entire river

On 22 March, World Water Day, the results of the world’s first civil science of water quality of an entire river will be shared. Initiator Li An Phoa, founder of Drinkable Rivers, executed the research during her 1061 kilometer walk along the river Meuse from the source in France to the North Sea in the Netherlands last Summer. Daily, Phoa took samples from the Meuse river together with local people in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The analysis of the data is done in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research and the Technical University Delft WaterLab.

Industry and families

This so-called baseline study will be repeated annually. Aside from the impact of familiar industrial pollution, Phoa wants to measure the impact of local people by broadening the research to look at medicine residue and microplastics as follow-up research this year. The results of the citizen science will be adopted in the database of TU Delft WaterLab that supports the broadening of the research to other rivers in Europe. Li An Phoa’s ambition goes even further. In 2020 a source-to-sea walk and citizen science along the river Yangtze is in the making. The data will also be shared with the database of EarthEcho (USA) and MyH2O (China).

Engaged people

Besides the collected data of water quality, the research engaged 500 people in the Meuse watershed with ‘their’ river. These inhabitants, among which many children, actively participated in the research by taking measurements with guidance of Phoa. "This has led to more engagement with the water quality of the river Meuse," says Marit Bogert from TU Delft WaterLab. RIWA-Meuse, the association of river water companies who tap the Meuse as source of drinking water, applauds the citizen science on the same grounds.

Drinkable Rivers

The citizen science along the river Meuse is a small step towards the large dream of initiator Li An Phoa: a world with drinkable rivers. "During my river walks I do research and mobilise local people to care for their river.” Politicians adopt her vision as well. “Li An Phoa’s vision towards a drinkable Meuse has sparkled a very new approach to our river, leading us to take concrete measures to make it possible and safe to swim in the river Meuse by 2020,” says Boris Ravignon, mayor of Charleville-Mézières, and president of EPAMA, the French Public Entity for the Management of the River Meuse. Together with Ravignon, Li An Phoa works on a network of mayors for a drinkable Meuse.

More information via:

Drinkable Rivers | Li An Phoa: | Tel 0031 618527940 TU Delft WaterLab consortium | Marit Bogert or Sandra de Vries:

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