Press Release – World Water Day

World’s first civil science of water quality of an entire river

On 22 March, World Water Day, the results of world’s first civil science of water quality of an entire river will be shared. Initiator Li An Phoa, founder of Drinkable Rivers, executed the research during her 1061 kilometer walk along the river Meuse from the source in France to the North Sea in the Netherlands last Summer. Daily, Phoa took samples from the Meuse river together with local people in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The analysis of the data is done in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research and the Technical University Delft WaterLab.

Industry and families

This so-called baseline study will be repeated annually. Aside from the impact of familiar industrial pollution, Phoa wants to measure the impact of local people by broadening the research to look at medicine residue and microplastics as follow-up research this year. The results of the citizen science will be adopted in the database of TU Delft WaterLab that supports the broadening of the research to other rivers in Europe. Li An Phoa’s ambition goes even further. In 2020 a source-to-sea walk and citizen science along the river Yangtze is in the making. The data will also be shared with the database of EarthEcho (USA) and MyH2O (China).

Engaged people

Besides the collected data of water quality, the research engaged 500 people in the Meuse watershed with ‘their’ river. These inhabitants, among which many children, actively participated in the research by taking measurements with guidance of Phoa. "This has led to more engagement with the water quality of the river Meuse," says Marit Bogert from TU Delft WaterLab. RIWA-Meuse, the association of river water companies who tap the Meuse as source of drinking water, applauds the citizen science on the same grounds.

Drinkable Rivers

The citizen science along the river Meuse is a small step towards the large dream of initiator Li An Phoa: a world with drinkable rivers. "During my river walks I do research and mobilise local people to care for their river.” Politicians adopt her vision as well. "Li An Phoa’s vision towards a drinkable Meuse has sparkled a very new approach to our river, leading us to take concrete measures to make it possible and safe to swim in the river Meuse by 2020," says Boris Ravignon, mayor of Charleville-Mézières, and president of EPAMA, the French Public Entity for the Management of the River Meuse. Together with Ravignon, Li An Phoa works on a network of mayors for a drinkable Meuse.

Download the press release in different languages

The press release has been translated in different languages, and more will come soon.

Our Partners

Consortium WaterLab: TU Delft, Hoogheemraadschap Delfland, IHE Delft, VPDelta

Wageningen University lab Environmental TEchnology (ETE)

Earth Echo – Water Challenge

Join Us for Water Journeys - An EarthEcho Water Challenge Virtual Field Trip

Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00pm EST

In honor of World Water Day and the kick-off of the 2019 EarthEcho Water Challenge, join EarthEcho International for a live, virtual field trip event – Water Journeys on Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00pm EST. This engaging virtual panel will allow students to learn about the importance of water quality and conservation, through stories shared from EarthEcho Water Challenge partners leading water monitoring programs in critical bodies of water around the world.

Participants will hear from Jesús Sánchez, Education Director at Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center in Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where community members have spent decades restoring a river that once caught fire due to high levels of pollution. They’ll meet Li An Phoa, Founder of Drinkable Rivers, who walked over 600 miles along the river Meuse from France to the Northsea last summer, involving five hundred children in water quality citizen science research, the world's first citizen-led source-to-sea baseline study. They’ll also meet Dr. Khristin Landry-Montes from InHerit (Indigenous Heritage Passed to Present), who is working with local Mayan students in Mexico’s Yucatan to explore the unique history and importance of the region’s freshwater cenote springs. Participants will be inspired to monitor and protect their own waterways on World Water Day and throughout the year through the EarthEcho Water Challenge.

Register and join us for this free, 45 minute virtual field trip event!

Happy Earth Day all of us !

Today we celebrate the Earth. It’s the Earth’s birthday I told my nephews Sam (5) and Boaz (2) this morning. It’s everyone’s birthdays. Sam asked “Also the earthworms’?” And Boaz asked “Also the hedgehogs’?” Yes, also earthworms and hedgehogs’ birthday and also of you and me.

Today we climbed trees to celebrate them: their rootedness, the soil and the birds we hear singing in neighbouring trees. Amongst the fresh hornbeam (Dutch haagbeuk; French charme) leaves while clinging to the branches, we celebrate the spring flowers beneath us, the warmth of the sun, the flow of the water next to the tree and in the soil, the waxing moon we can already see.

Earth Day 2018-tree

Yesterday, we celebrated World Fish Migration Day, being in awe with the small translucent elver, the baby eel (Dutch paling; French anguille), born in Mexico and then swimming 6000km to the Netherlands and then back again.

These migratory fish are challenged by a large dyke (Afsluitdijk) blocking their swimway and flow between the salty ocean to the fresh water lake of the Dutch IJsselmeer (the largest lake of Western Europe). Other challenges they face are habitat destruction and being overfished.

Earth Day 2018-beach

We not only celebrate birth, we also embrace death and dying. As we picked daisies (madelief; marguerite), made and wore a daisies’ necklace, the wilted flowers, after some time, we lay on a piece of paper.

But may there not come an end to birth (how Paul Hawkens refers to it). I wish that my nephews and their grandchildren will still be able to witness wild rhinoceros, bumblebees and migratory fish. Today, we celebrated the joy of playing together amongst all of life’s creatures, we joined the birds’ in song.

Happy Birthday, birthing all life! We’re happy to be part if it.

23/04/2018 - Noord Hollands Dagblad - Li An Phoa - Earth Day
23/04/2018 – Noord Hollands Dagblad – Li An Phoa – Earth Day


Drinkable Rivers, indicators for Healthy Living. With Drinkable Rivers we will be able to celebrate the birthing of all life for many generations to come and go… Every day, Earth Day.