Public participation in science: The future and value of citizen science in the drinking water research

Stijn Brouwer*, Paul W.J.J. van der Wielen, Merijn Schriks, Maarten Claassen, Jos Frijns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number284
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Amsterdam
  • Citizen science
  • Drinking water quality
  • Knowledge generation
  • Participation

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