Information for Schools and Colleges


OPAL Water Survey

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How healthy is your local lake or pond?

By taking part in the OPAL water survey, you’ll help scientists learn more about how polluted our lakes and ponds actually are – something we know surprisingly little about. Good water quality is essential for the many animals and plants that live in and around our lakes, ponds and rivers. Unfortunately, water is easily affected by pollution from agriculture and industry, waste we throw away, and even pollutants in the air.

Look for clues in the water

Animals living in the water can tell us a great deal about how polluted the water may be. Some species struggle to survive in polluted waters, while others are more tolerant. By telling us what life you see in your local pond you’ll discover more about the water's health and contribute to valuable scientific research. Simple tests for water clarity and pH, will provide further clues to the water quality.

All results returned for this survey will contribute to a national survey looking at the state of the environment in England.

How to take part

Step 1: Download the free easy-to-follow instructions and guides from:

Step 2: Find a suitable location and carry out the OPAL Water Survey. If you have any problems locating any of the equipment needed, such as pH strips, please contact the local OPAL Education Officer - Helen Talbot:

Step 3: Submit your results using our simple online form at: or send back via the Freepost address on the workbook.

Benefits to pupils

Pupils will learn a range of skills in identifying plant and animal species associated with freshwater ponds. The will learn basic environmental surveying techniques and will boost their confidence in engaging with wildlife and learning about their local environment. They will also work in teams on the project, and will contribute to valuable scientific research being conducted into water cleanliness in England. They'll also have a lot of fun!

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about this survey or would like help running one.

Relevant subjects Type of activity Suitable audiences
  • Biology
  • Resources
  • Y 10
  • Y 11
  • Y 12
  • Y 13
  • Y 3
  • Y 4
  • Y 5
  • Y 6
  • Y 7
  • Y 8
  • Y 9
  • KS 2
  • KS 3
  • KS 4
  • KS 5
  • All Years