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Water 2018, 10(3), 284; doi:10.3390/w10030284

Public Participation in Science: The Future and Value of Citizen Science in the Drinking Water Research

KWR Watercycle Research Institute, P.O. Box 1072, 3430 BB Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, 6700 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands
Vitens, 8001 BE Zwolle, The Netherlands
Waternet, 1096 AC Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
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This paper explores the value of involving citizens in the generation of knowledge in drinking water research. To this end, the significance of the ‘Freshness of Water’ citizen science project on the microbiological stability of drinking water was analyzed, supplemented with a series of expert interviews. In this project, citizens of Amsterdam participated in taking samples from their own kitchen tap and testing the water using test strips. The subsequent monitoring of bacteria revealed that the total number of bacterial species in all of the Amsterdam drinking water samples was high. For the participants, the presence of ten thousands of bacterial species in their drinking water, as well as the interpretation that this is perfectly normal and not a health concern, was obviously new. However, instead of causing concern or worry, this transparency clearly functioned as a strong confidence-inducing signal. A majority of the citizen scientists state that, as a result of their participation, their confidence in the quality of drinking water and the water company has increased. This study suggests that citizen science can raise the participant’s water awareness and that, with the appropriate support, non-professionals can make a valuable contribution to scientific drinking water research. View Full-Text
Keywords: citizen science; drinking water quality; participation; knowledge generation; Amsterdam citizen science; drinking water quality; participation; knowledge generation; Amsterdam

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Brouwer, S.; van der Wielen, P.W.J.J.; Schriks, M.; Claassen, M.; Frijns, J. Public Participation in Science: The Future and Value of Citizen Science in the Drinking Water Research. Water 2018, 10, 284.

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