The Rivers Trust partner with British Rowing

The Rowing Clean Water Partnership is a new group dedicated to cleaning up rivers.

Emma Brisdion



Today in Henley-on-Thames, The Rivers Trust joined the launch of the Rowing Clean Water Partnership. We're joining forces with British Rowing, River Action and Aquascope and creating a new group dedicated to cleaning up rivers in Britain.

In our latest State of Our Rivers Report (published in February 2024), we revealed that not a single river in England or Northern Ireland is considered in good overall condition. The report also made it clear that not only does the data available paint a dire picture of river health, we also need far more data to truly understand the depth of the problems our rivers face.

Olympians Imogen Grant and Graeme Thomas test the water at Henley-on-Thames at the launch of the Rowing Clean Water Partnership

Citizen science can be a key tool for gathering more data and also for empowering communities with knowledge about the health of their local blue spaces. Water users such as rowers are closely affected by the health of rivers, and are well positioned to take part in monitoring initiatives during regular training sessions, such as testing water quality and identifying levels of phosphates and nitrates.

Responding to this, British Rowing will begin supporting the rowing community to conduct extensive water quality testing with the Rowing Clean Water Partnership, and as part of the British Rowing Environmental Sustainability Strategy, which also launches today.

The water testing will take place across the rowing community, including grassroots rowing clubs and Olympian and Paralympian athletes. Testing has started with Team GB, who have already begun to sample the waters at the National Training Centre in Caversham, Berkshire.

Olympian and The Rivers Trust Ambassador Imogen Grant joins a training session for water quality testing at the GB Rowing Team's National Training Centre in Caversham

Imogen Grant, triple World Champion, Olympian and The Rivers Trust ambassador has joined the call for cleaner rivers, saying,

“The specific things that affect us as rowers reflect the wider problems that are affecting rivers nationwide. For me, as a sportsperson, I’m really excited at the potential of bringing about massive change - working towards a long-term goal in small, achievable steps.”

At the launch event, Imogen and fellow Team GB rower and Olympian Graeme Thomas joined media crews and Earthwatch to take samples and test the nitrate and phosphate levels of the River Thames as it flows through Henley-on-Thames, from the bank at the River & Rowing Museum.

Olympian and The Rivers Trust Ambassador Imogen Grant is helping to raise awareness that issues faced by our rivers can lurk beneath the surface

Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust said,

“Our recent report highlights the desperate state of our rivers and the threat that places on a thriving future. We are delighted to join forces with British Rowing to add the voice of the elite rowers and the community of rowing clubs across the country to our Rivers Trust movement. Working together, Rivers Trusts in every catchment across the country can use the support of local rowing clubs to help improve their local environment, to tackle sources of litter, pollution, invasive species and to restore healthy and vibrant rivers for everyone to enjoy.”

Every major river in Britain has a rowing club, and also has a Rivers Trust covering the catchment. To widen the opportunity for rowing clubs to clean up their local stretch of water, British Rowing is also announcing a funding programme coming soon, supporting rowing clubs to test their water, clean up litter and tackle the increasing problem of invasive species. To make this data collection more meaningful we're helping to connect interested clubs with their local Rivers Trust to look at the best opportunities in each region.

The Rivers Trust Team joined the launch event for the partnership in Henley-on-Thames

Images: The Rivers Trust, British Rowing, River Action

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