RiverSearch is a citizen Science project coordinated by Surrey Wildlife Trust on behalf of the River Wey Landscape Partnership and the River Mole catchment partnership. The project which began in June 2013 provides a catchment wide monitoring programme which feeds back to the partnership steering groups as well as reporting issues immediately to the Environment Agency.
Volunteers monitor roughly a 1km stretch of river and are trained to look for incidences of pollution, potential pollution pathways, barriers to fish passage and record the extent of non-native invasive species. As part of the survey volunteers map and photograph the ecological characteristics of the river through a simplified river habitat survey. This allows for identification of opportunity areas that can be cross referenced with WFD failures for that particular water body. With now over 80 active volunteers the focus has been on creating local area groups who not only carry out monitoring but actively get involved in river restoration days. When a new volunteer is trained they are put in touch with other volunteers in the area to increase their level of engagement.
In 2014 RiverSearch volunteers began using the Riverfly partnership methodology to monitor water quality and this led to the creation of a number of local river groups. These groups have been a hub for local volunteers who also carry out phosphate testing on each monthly survey. Using Riverfly and phosphate testing together has already allowed groups to successfully isolate 2 pollution incidents to particular outfalls. In 2015 volunteers have been helping us to collect baseline data before restoration works are carried out as part of the catchment partnership action fund projects. They will be active in delivering those projects as well as carrying out monitoring afterwards to.