The involvement of volunteers in the monitoring of the environment holds great potential to gather information on a wider temporal and spatial scale than is currently possible. However, the mass involvement of citizens in monitoring freshwater health is a relatively new field and subject to uncertainty. Here, we examine 1192 samples collected across 46 temperate ponds (<2 ha) and 29 temperate lakes (>2 ha) by 120 volunteers trained through the FreshWater Watch citizen science programme to consider if the approach is able to (a) identify well established patterns in water quality and biological indicators (i.e., fish), and (b) provide a potentially useful basis for the identification of pollution sources in urban or peri-urban landscapes. Seasonal patterns observed agreed well with established principles of nutrient dynamics, algal bloom seasonality, and broad biological trends between ponds and lakes. Further, observational data collected by the volunteers suggested plausible links between the presence of residential discharge and water level fluctuation and significant increases in algal bloom observations between peri-urban and urban sites. We suggest that citizen science can have a role to play in complementing regulatory monitoring efforts and that local citizens should be empowered to become stewards of their local freshwater resources.
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