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Validating citizen science monitoring of ambient water quality for the United Nations sustainable development goals

Quinlivan, Lauren, Chapman, Deborah V., Sullivan, Timothy
The Science of the total environment 2020 v.699 pp. 134255
United Nations, ambient water quality, citizen scientists, data collection, equipment, monitoring, sanitation, surface water, sustainable development
Citizen science (CS) may be described as research carried out by members of the public with the aim of gathering scientific information for the purpose of aiding in scientific projects. It has many potential advantages, including data collection at a scale not possible by professional scientists alone. The United Nations (UN) has recently recognized citizen science as a potential source of data that may contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The availability of relatively inexpensive water quality monitoring field equipment suitable for CS suggests great potential for increased spatial coverage far beyond that of traditional, laboratory-based monitoring networks for water quality. In support of work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Clean Water and Sanitation”, this study tested the use of such field equipment by citizen scientists for SDG Indicator 6.3.2: “Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality”. Data generated by 26 citizen scientists were compared with the results produced by an accredited laboratory. The results compared well for most parameters, suggesting that citizen science may be able to contribute towards monitoring ambient water quality for the Sustainable Development Goals.