The Clean Water Experiment

Stijn Brouwer PhD

  • Start date
    01 May 2017
  • End date
    31 Oct 2017
  • collaborating partners
    Deltares, Wageningen Universiteit, Waternet, Waterschap Amstel, Gooi en Vecht, AMS Institute en Pavèl van Houten
In this citizen science research project, initiated by Deltares, Wageningen University, KWR, Waternet, Regional Public Water Authority Amstel, Gooi en Vecht, AMS Institute and Pavèl van Houtenvan, Amsterdam citizen scientists will research the quality of Amsterdam’s surface water. Besides a more refined measurement network, new insights into the socio-scientific value and significance of citizen science, this project will produce answers from the Amsterdammers themselves. Is the Sloterplas lake water really so clean because of the mussels and underwater plants? What actually lives in the ditch behind the house? And is the Vondel Park water clean enough to swim in?


Over the last few years the water in Amsterdam’s canals, ditches, ponds and waterways has become a lot cleaner. And the city’s residents, particularly in the summer, are taking full advantage of it. Hot weather, but also heavy rainfall, can temporarily make the water less clean – think, for instance, of the impact of increased algal growth or of overflowing sewers. From 5 July until 8 October, 2017, 500 Amsterdammers will become water experts and research the quality of the water in the city.


Video – 03:02
Het Schone Waterexperiment – Projectvideo WITH ENGLISH SUBS


From 5 July until 8 October, 2017, 500 Amsterdammers will become water experts and research the quality of the water in the city. They’ll be using Waterbox, which was specially developed and contains all the instruments they’ll need to carry out the measurements; these might take place at the same site every week, or at constantly different sites throughout the city.

The significance of citizen science

Since measurements are taken simultaneously at multiple city sites and points in time, and because many water experts will be involved, it will be possible in this project to gain much greater insight into the quality of the water and to do so more quickly. It is also the first time in the Netherlands that citizen scientists have been used on this scale in the field of water quality. The role of KWR in the project is focussed primarily on the socio-scientific aspects, and thereby on the citizen scientists themselves. What is the background of the Amsterdammers involved? What motivates them to participate? And what is the significance of their participation, for instance, with regard to their involvement with Amsterdam water issues.