Longterm freshwater quality monitoring through citizen science in Catalonia, Spain.
Projecte Rius is an ecological quality monitoring project focused on freshwater ecosystems in Catalonia, Spain and led by a non-profit association. Its methodology is based in standard quality indexes broadly used to assess water quality in Europe, for example to implement the Water Framework Directive and its quality objectives. This specialised methodology has been adapted to be performed by citizen scientists using simpler tools and materials. Associació Hàbitats, the leading organization, provides methodology training, basic tools and permanent support to all participants. All the data collected are saved in the project’s database and results are made public in the project’s webpage using different formats and platforms. We contribute to research sharing our datasets with researchers and public administration as well as participating in research topics such as usability and precision of citizen science data and its potential role in water management.
At the beginning of its 25th edition, Projecte Rius has accumulated more than 5000 river surveys carried out in 670 different sites, some of which have had more than 10 inspections over time. We estimate that more than 50,000 people participated in the project since 1997 and currently we count 313 active teams within our volunteering network.
Through this remarkable Catalonian initiative a variety of people joined forces. Within twenty years 40.000 participants volunteered to join this citizen science project and together face the environmental challenge of water pollution. Over all these years they collected samples of rivers in the region, mapped their water quality, analysed the impact on concerned ecosystems and how they evolve over time. This way Projecte Rius raises awareness, trains skills and creates an invaluable database for research on water, one of the most precious resources of our time. Through the commitment of Projecte Rius it ultimately contributes to protecting a crucial habitat of multiple species.European Union Prize for Citizen Science Jury 2023 (Kat Austen, Lewis Hou, Pedro Russo, Andrea Sforzi, Stefanie Wuschitz). View full Statement here.
Associació Hàbitats (ES) non-profit organization founded in 1997 to manage Projecte Rius, the same project we still maintain as the core objective of our organisation. Among our complementary activities, we develop river habitat restoration projects in coordination with local councils and volunteers as part of our land stewardship approach. We are also involved in environmental education projects related to freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. Our main goal is to reconnect citizens and their environment to promote its conservation over time and transition to a more sustainable society.