What is SmartRivers?

SmartRivers - a member of the Riverfly Plus citizen science family - enables volunteers, supported by an IFM certified training scheme, to monitor the water quality in their rivers to a near-professional standard.

Nature's nursery is under stress

Salmon & trout are extremely vulnerable in their early freshwater life stages. The water in which they live must be pollution-free and plentiful in order for them to successfully mature and complete their life cycle.

Currently, the ideal conditions to maximise 'nature's hatchery' for salmon and trout are not being met in our rivers. These young fish are being subjected to subtle, and often invisible pollutants in the very water in which they live. Each of these pollutants has an environmental cost, leading to more stress in our fish and poorer quality salmon and trout.

Invertebrates are here to help

Invertebrates live in the same habitat as fish, so are experiencing the same water quality pressures as young salmon and trout. Through SmartRivers we are using invertebrates as a diagnostic test to understand more about the subtle pollutants 'stressing out' our fish.  They are easier and cheaper to sample than fish, and also show more revealing responses over time than the spot water samples used by regulators.

Analysing invertebrates this way has been thoroughly tried and tested through our Riverfly Census project – so we know it works!

SmartRivers is the diagnosis our fish are depending on

No other volunteer riverfly monitoring scheme goes completely to species-level.

SmartRivers is not a programme to just collect data for its own sake. By processing your species data through our unique calculator, SmartRivers analysis can pinpoint what the problems are and where they are occurring, allowing us to control what is controllable and drive real improvements to the quality of water flowing through our rivers.


 Only by prescribing our rivers the right 'treatment', will we achieve the conditions required to support sustainable populations of wild salmon and trout.


SmartRivers monitoring has four steps

What training is required?

To launch a SmartRivers hub on a new river, we collect a one year professional benchmark and provide two IFM certified courses for groups of volunteers*:

*Unfortunately we can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers and not for individuals. However, if you are struggling to establish a 'hub' group your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!



Once a hub is enrolled into SmartRivers, a one year (spring and autumn) benchmark sample is collected by our professional team at your five chosen monitoring sites.

This benchmark becomes a key part of your training and will be the reference point we will compare all volunteer monitoring against.



Teaches you how to take a three-minute kick-sweep sample to professional guidelines and preserve it in alcohol for later identification to species level.

You will be shown how to identify the different habitats in your stretch and divvy up your three minutes sampling time accordingly.



Teaches you how to carry out species-level identification using our App.

Rather than having to learn ID of all aquatic invertebrates, we teach you how to identify your river's expected species, obtained from our benchmarking work.

Pick your pathway

We appreciate that species identification is time consuming and not everyone's cup of tea, so we offer hubs the choice of two SmartRivers pathways:

Sample & Identify

If you choose the sample and identify option, you will be collecting samples at your chosen sites and identifying them to species-level yourself.

You will upload your species lists to our online database (instructions here), where biometric stress scores will be calculated for each site.

Sample & Send

Our Data

All data generated by SmartRivers hubs is available on our free, open-access database.

The Riverfly Census data (collected by scientists rather than volunteers) is also being uploaded to the database.

Complimentary species-level data has kindly been shared and uploaded from other organisations.

More information about who has submitted data outside of SmartRivers can be found on the hub map below.


View, download and submit all SmartRivers data here.

Please email to request a login, you will then receive an email with a link to set your password (don't forget to check your spam folder if this hasn't arrived).

Make sure to follow the link and set your password quickly, as the invite will expire after a few days. 

Stress scores for sediment, phosphorus, flow, chemicals and organic enrichment can be interrogated on our map.

Simply set a time period, select a pressure, and the traffic light colouring will indicate the impact of this stress indicated by the invertebrate community at our monitored sites.

The full dataset of invertebrate species lists can also be downloaded into Excel.

Instructions on how to use the database (with screenshots) are in our 'how-to' guide here.

Our Hubs:



Helpful materials and guides are available to view and download on our SmartRivers volunteer resources page


Common volunteer questions regarding sampling, identification and data are all answered in our FAQs section

Register Your Group

Why & how to get involved in SmartRivers

We provide training courses, videos, an identification App, and other tools and support throughout the process, tailored to you and your river.

We're already working with angling clubs, Rivers Trusts and many others to create a robust programme - but we need your input too!

Riverfly Partnership experience is valuable, but not essential. What is essential is a long-term commitment to improving and protecting our rivers.

We do not underestimate the challenge to grow the SmartRivers network, but we have the resources to help you meet the challenge.

If your club or group is interested in being part of SmartRivers please email

We can only run courses with groups of around 10 volunteers, but if you are struggling to find additional volunteers your local Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust may be able to help!

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Latest SmartRivers News

Freshwater Biological Association – courses are back for 2022

The Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) is alive and well, and pleased to announce that training courses are back for 2022! It has been announced that the FBA are restarting training courses at a new venue, on the banks of Windermere, from next spring (Covid restrictions allowing). The new venue is just a few miles south of […] Read More

FreshWater Watch: John’s Story

As you probably already know, SmartRivers is proud to be part of the Riverfly Partnership’s ‘Riverfly Plus’ toolkit, alongside other exciting citizen science projects like FreshWater Watch. We’re sharing the experiences of John Pratt, who monitors the River Evenlode through this brilliant scheme.   FreshWater Watch is a global citizen science programme from Earthwatch Europe, […] Read More

River Lugg: EA issued with EDR

Salmon & Trout Conservation issues formal request to the Environment Agency under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) Regulations 2015 over horrendous damage caused to the River Lugg in Herefordshire. Salmon & Trout Conservation (S&TC) has today issued a formal request for action under Regulation 29 of the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) (England) […] Read More

Severn Trent to adopt SmartRivers

SmartRivers welcomes its first water company hosted volunteer hub We are pleased to announce that Severn Trent is the first water company to enrol into the SmartRivers programme. SmartRivers is the volunteer arm of the Riverfly Census, where invertebrates are sampled and analysed to species-level. The species lists are then used to calculate biometrics that […] Read More

Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill

Philip Dunne MP launches new Bill to tackle river pollution Salmon & Trout Conservation warmly welcomes the introduction of the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, aimed at tackling the unacceptable levels of raw sewage being discharged into our rivers and streams. Rt. Hon Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow has published his Private Member’s Bill designed to […] Read More

It’s the perfume that you notice first.

“If we can’t conserve the most protected, how can we ever conserve the rest?” Feargal Sharkey, recently appointed a Salmon & Trout Conservation Vice President writes, It’s the perfume that you notice first. Not in that pleasingly attractive CHANEL N° 5 kind of a way but more in that acrid, back of the throat, ammonia […] Read More

Time for bespoke regulatory targets for all chalkstreams

Chalkstreams are as internationally rare and ecologically important as coral reefs or rainforests, and 85% of the world’s chalkstreams are found in England. With this comes a responsibility to protect them, something at the moment we are failing to deliver, with evidence of many stretches running dry, whilst others are clogged with nuisance algae and huge […] Read More

SmartRivers developments and achievements during lockdown

As with everything right now, SmartRivers (the volunteer arm of the Riverfly Census) is navigating its way through the ‘new normal’. However, despite restrictions forcing us to postpone travelling and training courses this year, lockdown gave us the time to make SmartRivers even smarter.   SmartRivers – now an IFM certified course We are delighted […] Read More

MoRPh: a tool for assessing river habitats at biological monitoring sites

As you probably already know, SmartRivers is proud to be part of the Riverfly Partnership’s ‘Riverfly Plus’ toolkit, alongside other exciting citizen science projects like MoRPh – the modular river survey River organisms respond to their environment and so it is important to monitor any environmental changes. Often the environment is characterised through water chemistry […] Read More

Persistence pays off in the pursuit of a pesticide problem

This is a terrific outcome for the river, wild fish, the wider environment and the local community. Nick Measham, CEO S&TC writes, Bakkavör is closing its salad washing plant at Alresford on the Upper Itchen. In simple terms this should result in an end to significant chemical pollution and provide much needed respite for all […] Read More

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