Big Windermere Survey is back

This weekend, Windermere will see the second round of one of the biggest ongoing citizen science projects in the UK.

11th November 2022

The Big Windermere Survey, an initiative designed by scientists at Lancaster University and the Freshwater Biological Association, is back on Sunday (13 November), with 100 community volunteers again working within the Leven catchment (which surrounds Windermere) to help build another one-day snap shot of water quality in the lake and its tributaries.

This second survey has been generously funded through the Love Windermere Partnership, and is again led by Lancaster University and the Freshwater Biological Association.

Building on the success of the first survey in June, the samples taken by volunteers this Sunday will be analysed independently by scientists at Lancaster University and other independent laboratories to provide precise and accurate data, which will help inform decision-making and action to improve water quality in the catchment.

The aim of the project is to build up a comprehensive and geographically wide-spread picture of water quality in and around Windermere, and how it varies throughout the year.

As with the first survey in June this year, samples taken on Sunday will be analysed for concentrations of bacteria and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can cause issues for both ecological and human health. The research and data gathered by the Big Windermere Survey throughout the seasons will be used to develop evidence-based plans to maintain and improve the lake for future generations, including by the Love Windermere Partnership.

Dr Louise Lavictoire, Head of Science from the Freshwater Biological Association, explained: “The Freshwater Biological Association has been monitoring water quality periodically here on the shores of Windermere for more than 90 years. June’s survey was the largest single one-day snap shot of water quality ever undertaken in the catchment, and we’re excited to be back to continue the work with our fantastic volunteers this weekend.

“It’s really important that we build up a seasonal picture of water quality, taking into account variable factors such as rainfall, temperature and visitor numbers.

“Ultimately this will allow us to see where there are specific problems affecting the lake, and then we can collectively plan the right interventions to tackle these issues.”

Results from the first survey can be found at

Love Windermere Partnership Partners: Environment Agency; Freshwater Biological Association; Lake District Foundation; Lake District National Park Authority; National Farmers Union; National Trust; South Cumbria Rivers Trust; South Lakeland District Council; United Utilities.