A group of worried volunteers is setting up a Citizen Scientists scheme to monitor the quality of water in the Teign Estuary.
On the back of concerns about current water monitoring, the group is joining a growing army of volunteers nationally who are already checking on the state of the country’s rivers and waterways.
Shaldon resident Stuart Reynolds, one of the six volunteers already signed up to carry out testing, explained: ‘We are lucky to live in a beautiful place where the waters are mostly clear and safe.
‘However, we need to understand what’s really happening when the sewage overflows are operating. ‘Frankly that isn’t going to happen unless we do something locally.
‘This initiative will really help us make sure the river and beaches are clean all year round.’
Teignmouth Councillor David Cox said: ‘The state of our rivers and the sea has been front page news in this newspaper and across the country on a regular basis over the last two years.
‘Modern technology and changing environmental policies, has increased public involvement in river monitoring over the last few years.
‘This has led to a bottom-up social movement that is clamouring for a change in the way we manage our water environment.’
Until recently, the Environment Agency which is responsible for protecting and improving the health of rivers in England, relied entirely on their own testing to inform their work.
Now the volunteers are hoping to help.
Budget constraints along with a proliferation of other data has led to a willingness on the part of the EA to respond to the ‘citizen science’ movement, Cllr Cox explained.
The volunteer scheme comes after Teignmouth Town Beach lost its prestigious Blue Flag status earlier this year which is awarded partly on the basis of excellent water quality.
Dawlish Councillor, Martin Wrigley added: ‘We want volunteers to test the health of the our rivers, so that we can present South West Water with robust scientific evidence.
‘The Environment Agency testing regime was no longer widespread or comprehensive enough.’
Citizen-generated data, particularly testing water quality, is gathering momentum nationally.
A similar scheme is already underway in west Devon, gathering information relating to the health of water courses.