Final Stage

  1. Summary

ECOMORE project was the largest and most complex “citizen science” program in Romania. Throughout the stages of the project, the state of certain aquatic systems was evaluated from the perspective of the general public. The project was based on various models of successful international citizen science projects (Plastic Pirates, FreshWater Watch and EarthEco). Within the project, the public was involved in the collection of qualitative and quantitative data about the state of the aquatic systems in Romania, using social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp), as well as on the Aqua S.O.S online platform ( A fairly significant willingness to engage was noted, in just 11 months, 113 contributions being received from 24 participants, providing both images of the water systems and descriptions of the surroundings via the online platform.

The culmination of the EOMORE project consisted of a 5-month monitoring campaign involving volunteers for water sampling and measurement. Five volunteers, who had no experience in water quality analysis, were recruited. During the recruitment stage, the volunteers were briefly informed about the activities and conditions of participation in the campaign. The volunteers sent 28 data for Tăbăcărie and Siutghiol Lakes (Constanța), Mureș (Arad and Alba) and Crișul Alb (Arad) Rivers, Mureșel channel (Arad) and Bârlădel Stream (Galați). Each volunteer received an educational backpack that contained assay kits for pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, temperature, carbon dioxide, nitrates, phosphates, and hardness. Along with the results of the on-site measurements, the volunteers also sent images of the studied water systems. At the end of the campaign, the volunteers received a questionnaire in order to understand their motivation, the degree of difficulty in carrying out the analyzes and their recommendations regarding future citizen science projects.

Based on the data sent by the participants, it could be concluded that waste, especially plastic waste, is a prevalent problem for the aquatic systems in Romania, which will accumulate and suffocate the entire system if not removed.

Citizen science activities enable large-scale spatial and temporal monitoring at much lower costs than professional monitoring. It also helps educate and raise public awareness regarding different environmental issues. Furthermore, it presents the unique opportunity to open up new collaborations between the public dedicated to solving environmental issues, researchers and authorities.

Investigating the dynamics of the involved citizens and their perception of the participation actions

The objective of this stage was to explore the dynamics of citizen science and their perceptions of public engagement actions. During Activity 1, the importance, purpose, limitations and practicality of these actions were determined. Activity 2 involved investigating the level of awareness and connectivity between the public and aquatic ecosystems. In Activity 3, the citizen science dynamics were assessed in correlation with local circumstances and monitoring objectives. Activity 4 involved identifying communication pathways between key communities.

Organization and implementation of the water quality monitoring campaign

During this stage, the monitoring campaign was carried out, lasting for 5 months, by involving volunteers in taking water samples and making analyses with the provided toolkits. 5 volunteers, who had no experience in water quality analysis, were recruited. During the recruitment stage, the volunteers were briefly informed about the activities and conditions of participation in the campaign.

Each volunteer received a Hanna Instruments educational backpack ( which contained analysis kits for pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, temperature, carbon dioxide, nitrates, phosphates and hardness. The information about the methods, the analysis parameters and the number of tests are presented in Table 1. The backpack included measurement instructions (bilingual Romanian/English), a manual with a general description of the water quality and the parameters that must be taken into consideration, and a CD with information about each parameter. In addition to these materials, backpack protocols for collecting and measuring water samples and water quality analysis sheets were added (Fig. 1). The following information was requested through the analysis sheet: first name, date and time of sampling, sampling point, GPS coordinates (optional), recent rainfall, surroundings, bank vegetation, water surface, waste, pollution sources, presence of aquatic life, an estimation of the water level, water color, water quality parameters. In addition, volunteers were asked to submit photos of the monitored water system. The pack containing the measuring kits has been designed for safe use by the public. However, we have developed safety instructions for the collection and measurement of water samples and waste management. The instructions and data sheet were designed based on models provided by international citizen science projects such as Plastic Pirates, FreshWater Watch and EarthEcho. The educational backpack was also equipped with disposable gloves, plastic containers for measuring/storing pH solutions, permanent markers, a pen, notebook, sticker labels, paper for measuring pH (optional, in case the standard tester from the educational backpack was too difficult to use in situ). To recognize the efforts of the participants, we put a certificate of participation and chocolate in each backpack. We also gave them the drinking water hardness measuring kit as a gift.

MethoteAnalysis rangeAvergae number of testsAmount of sample
Dissolved OxygenHI3810Titration0-10 mg/L O21105 mL
Carbon DioxideHI 3818Titration0-10 mg/L CO2 0-50 mg/L CO2 0-100 mg/L CO21105 mL, 10 mL, 50 mL
PhosphatesHI3833Colorimetric0-5 mg/L PO43-5010 mL
NitratesHI3874Colorimetric0-50 mg/L NO310010 mL
TesterHanna CodeAnalysis rangeResolutionAccuracy (at 25 °C)Calibration
pHHI98129 HI981300,00-14,000,01±0,05One or two points with standards at 4,01 / 7,01
Electrical Conductivity/ Total Dissolved Solids 0-3.999 µS/cm 0,00-20,00 mS/cm1 µS/cm 0,01 mS/cm±2% f.s.One point with the standard of 1.413 µS/cm 1382 ppm 1500 ppm Conversion Factor for Total Dissolved Solids of 0,45 at 1,00
Temperature 0,0-60,0 °C0,1 °C±0,5 °CAutomatic temperature compensation
Table 1. Information regarding the kits provided in the educational backpack.
Fig. 1 The analysis sheet for water quality provided to the volunteers.

After the sending the backpacks via courier, each participant received video clips made by the scientific team members, about the methods employed for measuring water samples. They were also sent an email with brief sampling, measurement, and safety instructions and a list of the items they needed for performing the tests (scissors, screwdriver for inserting batteries into the tester, clean plastic bottle for sampling). Correspondence with the participants was kept via email or WhatsApp. The small number of volunteers allowed the campaign to be easily managed. Volunteers were given the freedom to choose an aquatic system for monitoring, the frequency of measurement, the duration of the campaign and the parameters which they felt comfortable measuring. The choices they made helped us understand their preferences regarding the location and work method, as well as the optimal trade-off between the time involved and the results achieved. However, they received some recommendations from the scientific team regarding the measurement frequency.

The safety of the volunteers was taken into account and they were advised not to collect samples when the weather conditions did not allow moving and approaching the banks of the waters. Thus, the first data were received on February 17, 2022. The participants have the opportunity to continue sending data, even after the completion of the project. The kits included reagents for a minimum of 50 tests.

Results and discussions

Voluntarii au trimis 28 de date pentru lacurile Tăbăcărie și Siutghiol (Constanța),  râurile Mureș (Arad și Alba) și Crișul Alb (Arad), canalul Mureșel (Arad) și pârâul Bârlădel (Galați). Patru voluntari au ales să trimită datele imediat după măsurare, iar un voluntar a trimis toate datele colectate într-un singur document. Un voluntar ne-a transmis date pentru 3 sisteme acvatice, iar o voluntară pentru 2 sisteme acvatice. Două voluntare au ales să lucreze împreună și să colecteze probe cu variabilitate spațială și temporală, pentru a observa cum se modifică parametrii de calitatea apei în funcție de sezon și surse de poluare. De asemenea, au colectat probe înainte și după precipitații pentru a evalua impactul apelor pluviale asupra calității sistemului acvatic. Datele cu variabilitate temporală, pentru oxigen dizolvat, dioxid de carbon și conductivitate, sunt prezentate în Figura 2. Toate datele primite sunt prezentate în Tabelul anexat acestui raport. Pentru lacul Siutghiol s-a raportat doar un set de date și de aceea nu va fi discutat separat precum celelalte sisteme acvatice la care au fost prelevate cel puțin două seturi de date.

The volunteers sent 28 data for Tăbăcărie and Siutghiol Lakes (Constanța), Mureș (Arad and Alba) and Crișul Alb (Arad) Rivers, Mureșel channel (Arad) and Bârlădel Stream (Galați). Four volunteers chose to send the data immediately after the measurement, and one volunteer sent all the collected data in one document. One volunteer sent us data for 3 aquatic systems, and one volunteer for 2 aquatic systems. Two volunteers chose to work together and collect samples with spatial and temporal variability in order to observe how water quality parameters change according to season and pollution sources. They also collected samples before and after rainfall to assess the impact of stormwater on the quality of the aquatic system. Time-varying data for dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and conductivity are shown in Figure 2. All the received data are shown in the Table attached to this report. Only one data set was reported for Lake Siutghiol and therefore will not be discussed separately like the other aquatic systems where at least two data sets were collected.

Fig. 2 The values of dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide and conductivity, recorded by volunteers.

Tăbăcărie Lake

The data for Tăbăcărie lake were measured by two volunteers, who chose to analyze the spatial and temporal variability of the water quality, as well as the impact of rainwater on the measured parameters. Figure 3 shows dissolved oxygen concentrations for samples collected from seven points located around the lake. Dissolved oxygen is the amount of oxygen in the water, originating from the atmosphere and aquatic plants, and must be above 3 mg/L. When large amounts of organic matter are released or when there are algal blooms (caused by an excessive amount of nutrients – nitrates and phosphates), the amount of dissolved oxygen is extremely low (<1 mg/L – hypoxia) or zero (anoxia). The lowest dissolved oxygen value was recorded at the spillway near City Park Mall. The volunteers reported that the water had a very foul smell and a blue-black color. They also reported oil patches, residue and debris on the surface of the water. The same sample also showed high carbon dioxide values. In general, CO2 in water should be below 10 mg/L. But for this sample, a 2.8 times higher value was recorded. High CO2 values ​​generally indicate a high input of organic matter into the lake. The main sources of organic matter are stormwater and sewage. Values ​​above 30 mg/L are harmful to aquatic organisms, very few being able to survive in such conditions. Precipitation was recorded 2 days prior to sampling, so the high CO2 and low dissolved oxygen values ​​are not the immediate result of stormwater discharge. The data suggested that untreated sewage was being discharged, which could have a negative impact on the ecosystem.

Fig. 3 Spatial variability of dissolved oxygen concentration

After precipitation, there is was a decrease in dissolved oxygen concentration and an increase in total dissolved solids and conductivity (Fig. 4). Urban stormwater can carry various pollutants into the lake such as: sediments, oils, fats and toxic substances from vehicles, pesticides and nutrients from park treatments, viruses and bacteria from waste and metals from roofs and motor vehicles. These pollutants can substantially alter the quality of water, and in the case of storms, large amounts of rainwater can shock the aquatic system by suddenly bringing high concentrations of sediments and toxic substances.

There could not be observed any significant temporal variability during the 4 months of monitoring of Tăbăcărie Lake. High values of total dissolved solids and conductivity were influenced by the presence of marine aerosols.

Fig. 4 Stormwater impact on the water quality paramaters in Tăbăcărie Lake.

Voluntarele au raportat prezența unor cantități mari și foarte mari de deșeuri în anumite zone ale lacului: microrezervație, conducta de deversare aflată lângă biserica Sf. Mina, complex rezidențial Lake View. De asemenea, au raportat cantități mici și moderate de deșeuri în următoarele zone: canal de legătură cu Marea Neagră, canal de legătură cu lacul Siutghiol, aproape de stația de epurare, conducta de deversare de lângă City Park Mall, punctul 6 colectare (Fig. 3). Tipurile de deșeuri observate la monentul prelevării includ: țigări, hârtie, capace de plastic, ambalaje plastic, bucăți de sticlă, resturi organice.

The two volunteers who handled Tăbăcărie Lake reported the presence of large and very large amounts of waste in certain areas of the lake: the microreservation, the spillway near St. Mina’s church, the Lake View residential complex. They also reported small and moderate amounts of waste in the following areas: the channel connecting to the Black Sea, the channel connecting to Lake Siutghiol, close to the treatment plant, the discharge pipe near City Park Mall, and collection point 6 (Fig. 3). The types of waste observed at the time of sampling included: cigarettes, paper, plastic caps, plastic packaging, pieces of glass, organic waste.

Crișul Alb River

Au fost colectate 3 probe de apă în martie și mai 2022. Nu s-au observat modificări majore între probe. S-au înregistrat valori foarte mari de CO2, dar în scădere de la mijlocul lunii martie până la sfârșitul lunii mai. Oxigenul dizolvat a prezentat valori moderate pentru perioada și temperaturile înregistrate. Ferma piscicolă din Bocșig este o potențială sursă de materie organică excesivă, ce ar conduce la creșterea concentrației de CO2. Voluntarul ne-a raportat că în amonte se află o balastieră unde se excavează și care afectează apa râului pe durata excavării. De asemenea, ne-a raportat că se taie arborii din lunca Crișului, iar în fiecare an vegetația de pe maluri este din ce în ce mai puțină. A observat mai multe deșeuri în fiecare an, nu doar pe malurile apei, ci și pe drumurile din zona râului, în special materiale de construcții și plăci de azbociment (Fig. 5). Alte deșeuri observate includ: pungi plastic, sticle plastic, recipiente fast-food, ambalaje plastic, polistiren, recipiente din sticlă, resturi organice, capace plastic, capace metalice.

Three water samples were collected in March and May 2022. No major changes were observed between samples. Very high CO2 values ​​were recorded, which had a decreasing tendency from mid-March to the end of May. Dissolved oxygen showed moderate values ​​for the period and temperatures recorded. The fish farm in Bocșig is a potential source of excessive organic matter, which would lead to an increase in CO2 concentration. The volunteer reported that upstream from the collection point there is a ballast tank where excavations were taking place and which affected the river water. He also reported that the trees in the Crișului meadow are being cut, and every year the vegetation on the banks is less and less. He observed an increasing amount of waste every year, not only on the banks of the water, but also on the roads near the river area, especially construction materials and asbestos-cement tiles (Fig. 5). Other waste observed included: plastic bags, plastic bottles, fast food containers, plastic packaging, polystyrene, glass containers, organic waste, plastic lids, metal lids.

Fig. 5 Images with the collection point area, near Crișul Alb River.

Mureș River

Pentru râul Mureș am primit date de la 2 voluntari din județele Arad și Alba. Voluntarii au înregistrat valori similare de oxigen dizolvat, cu valori în scădere odată cu creșterea temperaturii. De asemenea, au raportat concentrații mari de CO2 după precipitații, cea mai mare cantitate fiind înregistrată la punctul de monitorizare din Alba, 110 mg/L. La punctul din Alba, s-au înregistrat valori mai mari de solide totale dizolvate și conductivitate, față de punctul din Arad. Culoarea apei a fost raportată diferit între cele 2 puncte de monitorizare, verde la Alba și maro la Arad. Ambii voluntari au observat deșeuri pe malurile râului Mureș (Fig. 6). Tipurile de deșeuri observate la momentul prelevării includ: pungi plastic, sticle plastic, recipiente fast-food, ambalaje plastic, tacâmuri plastic, polistiren, capace plastic, produse sanitare, doze de băuturi, recipiente din sticlă, mucuri de țigară, cauciucuri, bucăți de sticlă, textile, multe deșeuri neidentificabile.

For the Mureș River, we received data from 2 volunteers, from Arad and Alba counties. The volunteers recorded similar dissolved oxygen values, which manifested a decrease with the increase of temperature. They also reported high concentrations of CO2 after precipitation, the highest amount being recorded at the monitoring point in Alba, 110 mg/L. At the point in Alba, higher values ​​of total dissolved solids and conductivity were recorded, compared to the point in Arad. The water color was reported as being different between the 2 monitoring points: green in Alba and brown in Arad. Both volunteers observed waste on the banks of the Mureș River (Fig. 6). The types of waste observed at the time of sampling included: plastic bags, plastic bottles, fast food containers, plastic packaging, plastic cutlery, polystyrene, plastic lids, sanitary products, beverage cans, glass containers, cigarette butts, tires, pieces of glass, textiles, many unidentifiable waste.

Fig. 6 Images with the collection points of Mureș River, Alba County (up), Arad County (down).

Mureșel Channel

Probele din canalul Mureșel au fost colectate în aprilie și iunie 2022, din apropierea spitalului județean Arad și a complexului comercial Jackson. S-au constatat cantități mari de deșeuri și un aspect neîngrijit al malului canalului, iar apa a prezentat pe unele porțiuni o culoare alb-albastru, în aprilie, și verde, în mai (Fig. 7). S-au observat următoarele deșeuri pe malul apei: pungi plastic, sticle plastic, capace plastic, recipiente fast-food, tacâmuri plastic, ambalaje plastic, doze de băuturi, capace metalice, recipiente din sticlă, bucăți de sticlă, hârtie, textile, măști textile. În aprilie, s-au măsurat concentrații mari de fosfați (> 5 mg/L) și CO2 (90 mg/L), și cantități foarte mici de oxigen dizolvat (1 mg/L). Voluntarul a raportat că, la intrarea în localitate, înainte de porțiunea întubată a canalului, apa are un aspect relativ curat și nu are miros, însă la ieșire culoarea și mirosul apei se schimbă complet. În mai 2022, s-au măsurat valori mai scăzute pentru fosfați (2 mg/L) și CO2 (29 mg/L), și o valoare mai mare pentru oxigen dizolvat (3,75 mg/L), față de aprilie. Însă la acea dată, s-a observat un debit mai mare al apei. Datele și informațiile obținute sugerează că în canalul Mureșel se deversează ape pluviale și ape menajere netratate (prin concentrația mare de fosfați – care pot proveni din detergenți – și CO2, și prin concentrația mică de oxigen dizolvat).

The samples from the Mureșel Channel were collected in April and June 2022, near the Arad County Hospital and the Jackson Shopping Complex. Large amounts of waste and an untidy appearance of the channel bank were observed. With regards to the color of water, it was reported a bluish-white color in April and green in May (Fig. 7). The following litter was observed on the waterfront: plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic lids, fast food containers, plastic cutlery, plastic packaging, beverage cans, metal lids, glass containers, pieces of glass, paper, textiles, masks textiles. In April, high concentrations of phosphate (> 5 mg/L) and CO2 (90 mg/L), and very low amounts of dissolved oxygen (1 mg/L) were measured. The volunteer reported that at the city entrance, before the piped portion of the channel, the water looked relatively clean and presented no smell. However, at the exit part, the color and smell of the water completely changed. In May 2022, lower values ​​for phosphate (2 mg/L) and CO2 (29 mg/L) were measured, and a higher value for dissolved oxygen (3.75 mg/L), compared to April. On that date, a higher flow of water was observed. The data and information obtained suggested that rainwater and untreated household water were discharged into the Mureșel Channel (due to the high concentration of phosphates – which can come from detergents – and CO2, and the low concentration of dissolved oxygen).

Fig. 7 Images of the Mureșel Channel, Arad, from April 2022 (up) and May 2022 (down).

Bârlădel Stream

S-au transmis pentru pârâul Bârlădel, 5 seturi de date în perioada 19 februarie – 20 iunie. S-au observat valori foarte mari pentru CO2 (55-85 mg/L), nitrați (10-30 mg/L) și fosfați (5 mg/L). Oxigenul dizolvat a prezentat valori scăzute (min. 1 mg/L), cu excepția datei de 22 aprilie când s-au înregistrat 8,15 mg/L. Din păcate, până la data redactării raportului, nu am primit fotografii cu zona de prelevare. De asemenea, nu avem informații dacă există deșeuri în zonă. Datele sugerează că se deversează/infiltrează ape uzate menajere și de la practicile agricole. Voluntarul a raportat că  în zona de prelevare se află o stație de tratare a apelor uzate care deversează în pârâu, iar în punctul de deversare apa are o culoare aproape neagră. De asemenea, voluntarul ne-a raportat că înainte (acum 10-15 ani) se găseau chire de baltă, stârci mici, piciorongi și alte specii de păsări, dar și puiet de caras uneori. De asemenea, amfibienii erau ceva comun și împânzeau zona. Acum nici măcar amfibieni nu mai există. Culmea este că vegetație de baltă există (papură, stuf de-a lungul râului).

For the Bârlădel Stream, 5 sets of data were sent between February 19 and June 20, 2022. Very high values ​​were observed for CO2 (55-85 mg/L), nitrates (10-30 mg/L) and phosphates (5 mg/L). Dissolved oxygen measurements showed low values ​​(min. 1 mg/L), except on April 22 when a value of 8.15 mg/L was recorded. Unfortunately, up to the date of the present report, no photos of the sampling area were received. We also had no information regarding the waste status in the area. The data suggested that domestic wastewater was also discharged/infiltrated from agricultural practices. The volunteer reported that there was a sewage treatment plant in the sampling area that discharged into the creek, and the water at the point of discharge had an almost black color. Also, the volunteer reported to us that before (10-15 years ago) there were common terns, little herons, egrets and other bird species, and sometimes even young carp. Amphibians were also common and dotted the area. Now even amphibians don’t exist anymore. The highlight is that marsh vegetation exists (sedge, reeds along the river).


Towards the end of the monitoring campaign, we sent questionnaires to the involved volunteers by email in order to understand their motivation, the degree of difficulty in carrying out the analyzes and their recommendations regarding the citizen science projects. The questionnaire was created using models applied in other international citizen science projects [1], [2]. Four completed questionnaires were returned to us. Volunteers were not limited to the number of words per response and were not required to answer all questions. The questionnaire has been designed in such a way that it did not ask for any confidential information that could reveal the identity of the volunteers, should these questionnaires reach third parties. The form contained 11 open-ended questions that will be discussed below.

  1. What led you to participate in a citizen science project?

The participants motivation is the basic element of citizen science projects, which determines the degree of involvement and the success of these projects. The answers to this question had a main theme which is related to care for the environment and connection with nature, in accordance with previous studies [3]–[5]. The volunteers mentioned aspects such as the visible pollution of aquatic systems, the denial of science by the population, the desire to change public perception. Also, one volunteer responded that he found the idea of public involvement in research interesting, which indicates an openness of the public to citizen science actions. A volunteer emphasized the importance of involving local communities that can be part of the problem as well as the solution to environmental pollution.

I believe that the public, respectively the local community, has a very important role in everything related to the environment, both by the fact that it is part of this system, but also because its actions shape and modify the natural environment.

2. Why did you choose the specific aquatic systems you studied?

This question is also related to the participants’ motivation. The responses show the same concern for the environment. For example, two volunteers mentioned that Tăbăcăriei and Siutghiol Lakes belong to a time-protected area, “Natura 2000”, but they noticed that they are not conserved, monitored and exploited, being subject to a continuous process of degradation. An equally important aspect, mentioned by the participants, is the sense of belonging to a certain area and the social and cultural values of those water systems for the participants. A volunteer responded:

The chosen aquatic system has a special importance for me, being near the town where I grew up. And with the passage of time, its destruction by human ignorance made me try by any means to help it.

The sense of belonging to elements of nature was studied by Toomey et al. [6], who conducted interviews with the participants of a citizen science project in the urban environment. They noted that the sense of belonging is expressed through cultural and historical associations, as well as personal connections, ecological meanings, and socialization. Citizen science projects have the ability to strengthen this feeling among participants and develop it at the societal level.

3. Has your perception of the environment and the state of aquatic systems changed after the campaign you participated in?

Volunteers responded that participating in this campaign changed their perception on the environment. They became aware of the state of degradation of certain aquatic systems, and also realized the importance of the public in the remediation and preservation of aquatic systems. A volunteer responded:

Thanks to this campaign, I noticed how polluted the aquatic systems are, degrading rapidly as a result of human activities, and I realized that if we each and everyone of us doesn’t get involved, we won’t be able to keep environmental degradation under control.

4. What did you like most about the campaign you participated in?

On this question, the volunteers marked different aspects which we quote below. We emphasized aspects such as the pleasure of learning something new, working directly with samples, an activity in the middle of nature, easy-to-use tools, easy-to-understand information. These relate to the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of volunteers and have been identified in other citizen science studies [5], [7].

On the one hand, I really liked the organization, the seriousness and the constant help provided by the coordinator, as well as the fact that I learned many new things and looked at the environment differently, becoming much more aware of the reality we live in.

What I liked most was that I could stay in the middle of nature, that I could observe nature and that I felt good knowing that I was involved in protecting the environment by participating in the project, wanting to set an example for my children.

What I liked most about this campaign was the direct work with the samples and the fact that I was able to contribute to a project that wants to be a promoter of maintaining clean waters.

The fact that the measurements were performed easily due to the simple to use analysis tools and the fact that although I do not have much knowledge in the field of water quality, the information I received from the coordinator regarding the results obtained from the measurements was accurate and easy to understand.

5. Which parameters did you find the most difficult/easiest to measure?

Dissolved oxygen was considered by three volunteers as the most difficult parameter to measure. The dissolved oxygen measurement method involves more steps, adding 4 solutions to the sample, and longer analysis time than the other parameters. However, all participants measured this parameter, being essential in the characterization of aquatic systems. All volunteers found nitrates and phosphates to be the easiest to measure. Two volunteers also appreciated the ease of use of the tester for pH, conductivity and total dissolved solids.

6. How much time did you spend on a set of analyses on average? Do you think you had to allocate too much time or was the level of involvement in the project acceptable?

All volunteers found the time spent on the analyses to be acceptable. The time given to each data set varied between 30 min and 90 min depending on the number of parameters measured, the number of repetitions, the amount of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide. Also, the volunteers considered the total time allocated to the project to be acceptable.

7. What would you have liked to do more/less during this campaign?

Three volunteers answered that they would have liked to analyze more aquatic systems. One of the volunteers mentioned that time did not allow him to expand the database with another aquatic systems. A volunteer considered that what was requested in the project was enough:

I believe that this campaign focuses on exactly what matters: measuring the main parameters of water quality. Depending on the results obtained, we can easily find out what are the main malfunctions and sources of pollution of the studied aquatic environment.

8. What would you have liked us to do more or differently during this campaign?

The volunteers answered that the involvement […] was sufficient, especially since things were clear from the start. A volunteer mentioned that high school students should be involved along with physics and chemistry teachers in such projects.

9. What do you think should be the next steps after this campaign is over?

The responses indicated that it is necessary to disseminate the results to the general public to raise awareness of water pollution. It was also emphasized the need to inform the authorities about the results obtained in order to take measures to restore and conserve aquatic systems:

I believe that the results obtained should be brought to the public and local authorities or even further (environmental protection) because the studied aquatic system is contaminated from several sources, some even visible (eg: the discharge of highly used waters from the City Mall shopping center directly into the lake ) under the conditions in which the area should be protected.

A volunteer answered that the project should be continued and in the long term integrated into a wider project, which would also include the analysis of air, soil, flora, fauna.

10. Do you think it would be useful to involve the authorities in such projects/campaigns along with the public?

The answers were unanimously positive, because many people take into account the views of the authorities, and the authorities would be a good support for the campaign, especially since they manage the water systems. A volunteer answered that it would be important for the authorities to get involved in such projects together with citizens, in order to find solutions for environmental protection. It can be concluded that the public wants to actively participate in the process of identifying solutions and be a key factor in decision-making. The involvement of the authorities in such programs would bring numerous benefits at the societal level. Such projects would help authorities identify areas to target remediation/conservation funds [8]. The involvement of the authorities would facilitate the long-term development of citizen science programs [9]. It would also help stakeholders to share and understand the perspectives of each decision maker [10].

11. Would you like to participate in other citizen science programs in the future?  

The volunteers involved in this campaign expressed their desire to participate in other citizen science programs in the future.


In the second stage, limitations such as low temporal and spatial resolution, subjective assessment or deliberate avoidance of waste or unsightly areas were observed. It is also important to note that the information provided by the participants represents only one point in time. Seasonal variability, the occurrence of accidental pollutions that can be remedied from one assessment to another, as well as the geographical location matter a lot. In the third stage campaign, an attempt was made to reduce measurement errors by providing video and text instructions, rapid communication with participants via email and WhatsApp, and the use of analysis kits with a moderate degree of complexity. The involvement of a small group of volunteers limited the data spatial resolution. However, a larger number of volunteers would have been difficult to manage, requiring more time to maintain contact with them. Also, the same temporal data variability was not achieved, with volunteers having limited options in terms of time allocated and access to the sampling point.


[1]      N. Constant and L. Roberts, “Narratives as a mode of research evaluation in citizen science: understanding broader science communication impacts,” Journal of Science Communication, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 1–18, 2017.

[2]      L. Levontin, Gilad, and Chako, “Motivations for participation in CS-Researchers’ version,” 2018.

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Aquatic SystemDate/ HourPrelevation PointGPS coordinatesRecent precipitationsSurroundingsVegetation banksSurface WatersWastePollution sourcesAquatic LifeEstimated Water LevelWater ColorpHConductivity(uS/cm)TDS (ppm)Water Temperature (°C)Air Temperature (°C)Nitrates (mg/L)Phosphates (mg/L)Carbon Dioxide (mg/L)Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L)
Tabacarie Lake17.02/9:50The bank near Mamaia Bvd. (Church) clear skycommercial, industrial, park, Sf. Mina Church, microreservationno vegetationfoam (low quantity)plastic caps, plastic packaging, pieces of glass, cigarette butts, paper, organic wastecity park mallplants in the water, frogs, birdsmoderategreen     <10<1298.2
Tabacarie Lake14.03/18:20near the wastewater treatment plant44.210141; 28.641960cloudsresidential, commercial, industrialno vegetationcleanplastic bags, plastic caps, cigarettes, papermunicipal wastefish, frogs, birdsmoderategreen8.219509804.3640.908.6
Tabacarie Lake21.04/17:45lake view44.210932/ 28.642077Clear sky at the time of sampling, rain 2 days beforecommercial areasgrasswastehigh quantity  moderatebrownish8.21890944141540.208.6
Tabacarie Lake14.05/13:15microreservation44.206193/ 28.641012Clear sky at the time of sampling, rain in the morning        7.751797902232144211.35
Siutghiol11.03/15:22Ovidiu walkway44.254098; 28.572875snowresidential, commercial, parkgrasscleanplastic bottlesmunicipal wasteplants coming out of the water; fish; frogs; birdsmoderatebrown8.2120389963.3-3.56107.3
Crisul Alb River12.03/17:30Bocsig town (Arad)46.428954;21.921555clear skyagriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags; plastic bottles; fast food containers; plastic packaging; polystyrene; glass containers; organic waste; hunting rifle cartridge; spray tubes plants in the water, plants coming out of the water, fish, frogs, birds, mole by the rivermoderategreen7.923201604.95  60 
Crisul Alb River27.03/14:30Bocsig town (Arad)46.429192;21.921548clear skyagriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags; plastic bottles; plastic packaging; polystyrene; organic waste; plants in the water, plants coming out of the water, fish, frogs, birdsmoderategreen8.5928714311.515<10<14811.3
Crisul Alb River21.05/18:40Bocsig town (Arad)46.4290762;21.9215474clear skyagriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bottles; plastic covers; polystyrene; metal caps; glass containers plants in the water, plants coming out of the water, fish, frogs, birdsmoderategreen    27<10222.56.5
Mureș River09.04/13:50Arad, Micalaca ballast46.162770, 21.355787clouds, rainmeadows , ballast, doestic animal shelter (sheep, pigs)grass plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic lids, fast food containers, plastic packaging, polystyrene, beverage cans, glass containers birdsmoderatebrown7.5727813913.118<10<1598.6
Mureș River05.06/11:30Vladimirescu Commune, Cicir Village (Arad)46.126182, 21.432416clear skyforesttrees/shrubs; grassdirtyplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic lids, fast food containers, plastic cutlery, plastic packaging, polystyrene, metal lids, glass containers, pieces of glass, cigarette butts, textiles, tiresgarbage left on the banksplants in water; plants emerging from water, fish, frogs, birds;moderatebrown7.9139520223.725.2<10<1206.3
Mureșel Channel17.04/19:00Arad, Jackson Commercial Complex46.1841680/21.3049456clear skyresidential, commercialgrassWhite, almost blue/very pollutedplastic bags, plastic bottles, sanitary products, textilesindustrial discharges, municipal discharges, rainwaterplants in waterlowwhite, almost blue-white    12<10> 5901
Mureșel Channel13.06/17:50Arad, County Hospital46.183722/21.306505clear skyresidential, commercial, Arad County Hospital nearbytrees/shrubs; grassdirtyplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic lids, fast food containers, plastic cutlery, plastic packaging, beverage cans, metal lids, glass containers, pieces of glass, paper, textiles, textile masksmunicipal waste, stormwater frogs, birdsmoderategreen7.47413206.525.631<102293.75
Mureș River26.02/10:15100 m upstream from the bridge, on the 107E road, near Aiud cloudsresidential, agriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic packaging, sanitary products, beverage cans, glass containers, cigarette butts, organic waste plants in watermoderategreen8.17593645.4 <10<11010.3
Mureș River10.03/14:40100 m upstream from the bridge, on the 107E road, near Aiud cloudsresidential, agriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic caps, plastic packaging, glass containers, tires plants in waterlowgreen8.586933107.6 <10<188.9
Mureș River24.03/11:30100 m upstream from the bridge, on the 107E road, near Aiud clear skyresidential, agriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic packaging, beverage cans, glass containers, tires plants in waterlowgreen8.987883959 <10<189.4
Mureș River23.04/18:37100 m upstream from the bridge, on the 107E road, near Aiud  clouds, rainresidential, agriculturaltrees/shrubs; grasscleanplastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic caps, plastic packaging, pieces of glass, textiles, many unidentifiable waste plants in water, plants coming out of waterhighgreen8.6234016910.7   1107.8
Bârlădel Stream19.02 45.27556/ 27.45293         7.761236 4.05 205 4
Bârlădel Stream05.03 45.27556/ 27.45293         7.921253 3.35 105852.17
Bârlădel Stream08.04 45.27556/ 27.45293         7.6251268 22.5 20573/
Bârlădel Stream22.04 45.27556/ 27.45293         8.161290 19.4 305568.15
Bârlădel Stream20.06 45.27556/ 27.45293         7.741237 26.9 205551
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 13:10Spillway pipe, near the church of Sf. Mina44.203655/ 28.637921         7.291470736141373185
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 13:32Microreservation44.206193/ 28.641012         7.95149979514134107.1
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 14:06Lake View44.210932/ 28.642077         8.21890944141540.208.6
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 14:28Connecting Channel to the Black Sea44.216599/ 28.640953         7.86194894813.91320.6164.1
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 15:02 Siutghiol Connecting channel44.217391/ 28.630489         8.352030102413.81350.708.1
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 15:20Tăbăcărie Park44.210561/ 28.632600         8.2189592513.31311.507
Tabacarie Lake21.04.2022/ 15:39Pipe City Park Mall44.204227/ 28.634382         7.25173386316.11331280.8
Tabacarie LakeÎn mod normal                    
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 13:10Spillway pipe, near the church of Sf. Mina44.203655/ 28.637921         7.291470736141373185
Tabacarie LakeDupă ploaie                    
Tabacarie Lake14.05/ 12:42Spillway pipe, near the church of Sf. Mina44.203655/ 28.637921         8.27191395023216201.35
Tabacarie LakeÎn mod normal                    
Tabacarie Lake21.04/ 13:32Microreservation44.206193/ 28.641012         7.95149979514134107.1
Tabacarie LakeDupă ploaie                    
Tabacarie Lake14.05/ 13:15Microreservation44.206193/ 28.641012         7.751797902232144211.35