24. Junior River Wardens
Themes: Community engagement and participation; Improving water quality and water quantity
- Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
- Increase public access to and involvement in the river
- Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements
Junior River Wardens assess and monitor the health of the River Lea, allowing for better decision-making and intelligent interventions and improvements.
Groundwork works with local schools and community groups, providing citizen science monitoring activities at river locations local to their school or venue. Teachers and group leaders are provided with training and equipment enabling them to lead independent river monitoring activities with their pupils at their leisure. Data collected is then uploaded to a cartographer website (alongside RiverLUTiON monitoring data).
The project was launched in April 2016 with funding from Thames Water Community Investment fund. The two-year programme engaged 12 local schools and four youth groups in monitoring activities, identifying non-native species, litter and pollution monitoring.
Year 2 of the project culminated in a schools and community engagement event, The Big Count, where community training sessions were given to interested people, to kick-start another stage of the project: RiverLUTiON Volunteer River Wardens.
Since April 2018, with funding from the Environment Agency, a further 14 group activities have taken place through the Junior River Warden project, including nine new and five returning school and community groups. At the end of the year the Big Count event was held in Manor Park in October 2018 to display all the data collected over the year and to celebrate the work being done to improve the river. See project 32.
During this period Groundwork has also led a number of continual professional development (CPD) teacher training events, giving teachers and group leaders training on how to run a successful field trip to the river. Each received a certificate for their CPD portfolio.
Groundwork is currently looking into funding options to run further JRW activities and will be keeping the website up to date with developments.
The Cartographer map below collates and present the data, to create a timeline of the health of the river and allow volunteers and general audience to see value of data being collected.