PhD project by Sara Blanco

Value of different citizen science approaches for water quality observations

Hello, I am Sara, a PhD student in the CrowdWater project! My PhD project continues the research of the CrowdWater project on the potential value of citizen science approaches in hydrological sciences, but instead of water quantity, I am focusing on observing water quality.

Citizen scientists have been involved in water quality observations in various regions and studies. The interest of the public in water quality has captured my attention for the past four years and is something I have studied since my Master’s studies in Costa Rica.

For my PhD, I compare the potential value of different citizen science approaches for water quality observations. Of course, this includes developing better practices for water quality monitoring through public participation.

To achieve my goals, I am currently doing a literature review and plan to develop a visual and qualitative approach for water quality monitoring. The literature review is focused on the different approaches that have been used in citizen science projects for water quality observations. Most of these previous studies have used special measurement equipment to assess the water quality, for example the concentrations of nitrate or sediment in the water. I am working on developing a visual and qualitative approach to include a water quality category in the CrowdWater app as well. This approach considers how people assess water quality by looking at visual aspects of the water, such as the color or smell of the water. I also plan to use hydrological modelling to explore the best monitoring strategies in terms of the spatial and temporal distribution of the observations. For this hydrological modelling, I will use a catchment-based water quality model.

So far, there is no water quality category in the CrowdWater app. However, your observations in the stream type category are very useful for my research. The answers to the questions in this category help me define a visual and qualitative approach for water quality observations. If you have any questions, ideas or experiences related to my research that you would like to share, do not hesitate to write to: I’ll be delighted to get in touch with you!