Project Overview 2020-2022

In 2020, the iWharfe project started out as a citizen science project, working with the Addingham Environment Group, Ilkley Clean River Group and a range of other community groups to investigate the water quality of the River Wharfe, find out more here. The project was designed to provide a snapshot of water quality conditions along the entire length of the river on a single day and to raise awareness about water quality issues both for people and wildlife.


Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust adopted the project and have continued monitoring work with our partners through citizen science, looking at faecal bacteria in 2021 and the ecology of the Wharfe in 2022.


Project Outputs


Following the success of our mass sampling days in August 2020 and 2021 we can now share the reports for both the main river (iWharfe 2020 Microbiology Report, iWharfe 2020 Nutrients Report, iWharfe 2021 Report) and its tributaries (iWharfe 2021 Tributaries Report). In 2021 we also used a citizen science approach to find out more about faecal bacteria in Upper Wharfedale (iWharfe Upper Report) and in 2022 we looked in more detail at the ecology of Wharfe between Addingham and Otley (iWharfe Eco-Ashlands Report).


You can view and download these reports and other iWharfe material using the links below


To see a brief summary of the project and a full list of partners and funders download our promotional flyer. 


We designed a project poster to publicise iWharfe as an event on social media. There is one general poster for the project as a whole and five posters customised for the five respective sampling zones which can all be found below.

iWharfe Sites

Sites for water sampling

We took water samples from approximately 60 sites along the full length of the river. The samples were analysed for faecal indicator bacteria, such as E. coli, and nutrient water chemistry, especially orthophosphate, at specialist accredited laboratories.


Recreational sites

In addition to the sites for the water sampling, we also identified approximately 30 sites along the rivers that were frequently used by visitors for swimming, paddling or other river-related recreational activity. We carried out visitor number surveys of these sites to assess which were the most popular and which were the safest to use on a particular day.

The first visitor survey took place on Sunday 9th August 2020. Take a look at a brief report and some pictures from the day.