Surveying in the 21st century

There was a time when volunteers were armed only with a pencil and piece of paper to survey the waterways.

Well not any more*, as this month groups of volunteers will be taking iPads with them as they take part in our canal discharge survey in various locations across the country.

We’re asking our volunteers to walk a length of canal and spot any discharges entering our waterways. They’ll be using an application – ‘app’ – on the iPads to record information about the discharge and to take a photograph. This data will then be added to our maps and the utilities team will use the information to identify any discharges they need to investigate.

It may be cold...

But this time of year is ideal as the vegetation hasn’t yet started growing to hide any discharges, and there is a high chance that there will actually be water coming out of the discharge. It’s all well and good being out in the sunshine, but not if you can’t see what you’re supposed to be surveying for!

The inductions that we’ve been carrying out for these surveys have allowed us to meet with even more enthusiastic volunteers and to share their experiences. One volunteer I met at the Leeds induction has so much knowledge about the local waterways, and I’ve now planned a day trip to one of the areas we talked about (Bingley Five Rise) to discover more of my local area. It’s been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways – click here to find your nearest wonder.

New opportunities

In other teams volunteering continue apace – you’ll have read about The Roundhouse project in our January blog that the Heritage team are involved with, and we’re looking at some new engineering opportunities too. All our volunteering opportunities are advertised on the website – you can search by location to find the most convenient for you.

Our colleagues on the waterways have been busy recruiting volunteer lock keepers for this year – this is something I’d definitely be applying for when I have some spare time. This follows on from the great experience we had on our Boating Buddies day last year.

It’s February already and the year continues to be busy with volunteering – we’re looking forward to welcoming even more volunteers into our teams over the coming months – maybe it could be you!

See you in April!


*Don’t worry; the trusty pencil and paper are still in use – technology is great, but sometimes nothing beats a handwritten survey!

Last date edited: 4 February 2015

About this blog

Volunteer coordinator

Amanda is a volunteer coordinator for the Technical Team within the Trust. Whether it’s finding a student for a long-term placement with the environment team or assisting the hydrology team with a team of volunteers to count boat movements, she can be counted on to find the right people for the role. Amanda joined the Trust in July 2012 and previously worked as the Volunteer Leader in the East Midlands. She has worked at other charities in people engagement roles, but is at her happiest besides the water.

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