What is SmartRivers?

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SmartRivers is taking the Riverfly Census national by training volunteers to sample and analyse river invertebrates.

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✔️ Our Riverfly Census has already established solid, scientific foundations of river health across 20 rivers in the UK.

✔️ The Census data has highlighted the subtle but lethal pressures facing these rivers from phosphate, sediment, organic pollution, abstraction and pesticides.

✔️ We have used the data to influence EA action.

But this is just the start.

✔️ All rivers deserve a proper diagnosis, and we cannot achieve this alone.

✔️ We need help to extend species-level invertebrate analysis to many more rivers to collect multi-year data.

SmartRivers will enable volunteers, supported by a training scheme, training videos, an invertebrate-identification App and support programmes, to monitor the water quality in their rivers to a near-professional standard.

How does SmartRivers work?

The SmartRivers process



We will take spring and autumn benchmarks to provide a baseline and understand which invertebrates are in your river.

We also train you to sample at your sites using the Environment Agency's 3 minute kick-sweep protocol and preserve the sample in alcohol.

This sets you up to take your own samples in future years.



Record and analyse the samples to species level, following the training we provide and using the instructional video below.

If  you do not want to analyse your samples, you can send them to us to do it for you (at a modest cost).

Be sure to use our SmartRivers App and a microscope.



Send your raw data to us to derive a detailed invertebrate analysis of water quality at your sites.

The analysis indicates the impact of: organic pollution, nutrient enrichment, sediment, river flow and pesticides.

Your data is stored in our database to be shared with us and others working to improve our rivers.

4. ACT


You will have the ability to use the data to work with S&TC to drive improvements in water quality in your river and others across the country.

For example, you can use the data to assist in river management and assess river restoration projects.

And we can use the data to work with the EA and others to address the causes of poor water quality.

How does our training work?

  • We provide two day-long courses (both shown in the videos) for your group of volunteers: the first course teaches how to take a three-minute kick-sweep sample and preserve it in alcohol for later identification to species level; the second course teaches you how to carry out species-level identification using our App for your river - the course uses the professional benchmark we have taken on your river.
  • On successful completion of the courses, attendees will receive a certificate and we will provide your volunteer hub with a microscope to use in future identification.
  • We plan to provide follow-up training and support.

The above steps are explained in detail in our dedicated SmartRivers training videos:

Join us to protect your river

Why & how to get involved in SmartRivers

We provide training courses, videos, an identification App, and other tools and support throughout the process, tailored to you and your river.

We're already working with angling clubs, Rivers Trusts and many others to create a robust programme - but we need your input too!

Riverfly Partnership experience is valuable, but not essential. What is essential is a long-term commitment to improving and protecting our rivers.

We do not underestimate the challenge to grow the SmartRivers network, but we have the resources to help you meet the challenge.

If you are ready to try to take ownership of your river, please contact us by emailing, or use the form below:

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We rely on your support to protect wild fish and the places they live.

By donating or joining as a member you will be making a huge contribution to the fight to protect the UK's waters and ensure a sustainable future for wild fish.

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