Big Windermere Survey
Environment,  FEATURES,  NEWS

The Big Windermere Survey launches crowdfunder to help continue its water quality research

The Freshwater Biological Association has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help continue its vital water quality research on Windermere. Windermere, England’s largest natural lake, needs ongoing water quality research to generate local evidence-based action.

Launched in 2022 by the Freshwater Biological Association and Lancaster University, the Big Windermere Survey (BWS) has developed a community of volunteer citizen scientists to help monitor and understand water quality in Windermere and its surrounding catchment. Excellent water quality is essential to support community health, wellbeing, recreation, and the sustainable economic growth of Windermere’s visitor-based economy. 

Four times per year, hundreds of citizen scientists, concerned about the ecological health of Windermere, come together to collect water samples which are then analysed in professional, accredited laboratories to achieve precise and robust data so they can build a more complete picture of the pressures in the catchment. 

A Lake District icon

Windermere is an internationally iconic freshwater lake in the heart of the Lake District National Park – vital for business, tourism, recreation, conservation, and wildlife. However, concerns have been raised about the health of the lake. In particular, there are concerns about algal blooms and bacterial pollution which are potentially harmful to animals and humans. 

The role of the Big Windermere Survey

The survey focuses on the key nutrients and bacteria that lie behind these issues, contributing to the scientific understanding of water quality in the Leven catchment. Data gathered drives evidence-based action to protect and restore the health of Windermere. The survey has already generated community-focused action and continues to support the development of future initiatives to improve lake conditions. Data from the survey has already initiated local investigations and monitoring into higher phosphorus and bacterial concentrations from multiple wastewater sources and misconnections across the catchment.

Funding the Big Windermere Survey

To continue running the Big Windermere Survey, the research group needs to raise £30,000 by the beginning of July to fund their summer 2024 survey. To date, previous surveys have been funded by generous grants from organisations such as Westmorland and Furness Council, the National Trust, Lake District Foundation and the Environment Agency. 

The Windermere project is seeking sponsorship support from the local business community to continue its vital research and outreach work. They are also raising funds through the Big Windermere Survey crowdfunder, with each donation of up to £250 being matched pound-for-pound by the Aviva Community Fund.

“We are incredibly grateful to all the volunteers and donors who have helped support the survey over the past two years, but without further financial support, Windermere may lose this vital and independent monitoring and research programme,” says Emma Kelly, Windermere Project Officer.

For more information about the Big Windermere Survey, visit

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