Clean Water Quest

Clean Water Quest is a catchment wide survey of water quality in the River Thame and it’s surrounding water-bodies, from the tiniest trickles, pools and streams to vast lakes and the meandering River Thame.

Volunteers used quick kits to measure the levels of two widespread nutrient pollutants, nitrate and phosphate, in all types of freshwater habitats; ponds, streams, ditches, lakes, the river and more. The survey ran between the 1st May and the 30th June.

We hope to run the survey again in 2020. If you are interested in signing up, please register you interest by emailing us at

Clean Water Quest aims:

  • To find clean water, places free from both nitrate and phosphate pollution, where wildlife can thrive.
  • To reveal the extent of nutrient pollution affecting the freshwater wildlife of the Thame Catchment.
  • To raise awareness of the widespread issues of nutrient pollution

The Results

Over 430 water samples were collected and tested. High levels of both nitrate and phosphate were found across all habitat types. However, despite the many pressure on the landscape, clean water could still be found.

17% of sites were found to be clean and free of pollution. Of the clean water sites, almost three quarters were ponds. Clean water was also found in the running waters, but it was concentrated in the headwaters, particularly where they rise in semi-natural habitat, such as woodland.

Clean Water Quest summary report

To see more detailed results and findings please read our summary report. 


The results from the survey highlight the importance of the smaller waters to provide clean water habitat that freshwater wildlife need, and how vital is now is to put clean water back into the landscape.

The Trust hopes to use these results to inform future projects. We aim to extend the clean water network, in particular through pond creation and by working down from clean water streams and ditches.



Health and safety guidance note

Test kit ‘how to’ video


This work is possible thanks to the support of Thames Water.