Just one month after three-quarters of Venice was flooded by exceptional high tide – at its peak the water rose to more than 1.5 metres deep – KWR was present at the2nd International Conference on Citizen Observatories for natural hazards and Water Management that took place in this historic Italian lagoon city.
During this conference, an international group of scholars and practitioners investigated the role and opportunities for active citizen participation in policy making and the new technologies, methods and advanced modelling to support citizen observatories. KWR contributed to this conference by sharing its experience of five unique citizen science projects in the domain of water research in the Netherlands conducted in the period between 2016 and 2017: “The Freshness of Water “, “CS and Lime”, “CS and Lead”, “CS and Hardness”, all focusing on drinking water quality, and “The Clean Water Experiment”, which focused on surface water quality.
One of the conclusions related to these citizen science projects in the Dutch water sector is that as a result of participation, confidence in both the water institutions as well as in water quality has increased. At least as important, we learned that water awareness has increased for a majority of participants, and shared lessons about how to involve a broad range of participants in citizen science projects. Lessons that in this city rising from the water, surrounded by water, and whose streets are made of water, were well received and found highly relevant.
At the same time, the conference provided in new insights and inspiration to take forward into new citizen science projects. To start with next year: in 2019 KWR will start a new project in which customers from the Belgium water company De Watergroep will participate as ‘temporary water researchers’ in a scientific study on the hardness of their drinking water.