Clean River Kent Campaign main activities

Volunteers with water sampling tools stand on the banks of the river Kent

Citizen science

Since 2021, CRKC has undertaken citizen science work to understand the health of the river Kent. This work helps to inform and support our campaign to protect it.

– In 2021/22 we monitored water quality at 6 sites along the river for faecal bacteria and created a report to summarise the results.

– In 2022/23, we tested levels of phosphates and nitrates in the river, as well as other ecological indicators of water health, as part of a national programme co-ordinated by Freshwater Watch.

– In 2024, we’ll start a research programme, in partnership with the University of Sheffield, to explore the sources of faecal bacteria in the river.

Surveys and data collection

Two young children playing in the waters of the river Kent with arm bands and an inflatable dinghy.

In 2022, we collected data, photos and survey responses for an application for bathing designation for a stretch of the river Kent in Staveley. Our application was unsuccessful, but the process was very useful in terms of raising awareness of our campaign, and finding out more about the river and how people use it.

CRKC also campaigned for clearer guidance from DEFRA for future submissions, especially for upland river sites like the river Kent. They’ve now provided guidance – and it’s clear that it’s almost impossible for an upland river to gain designation. The guidance states that there must be 100 people present at the location on at least two days during the summer bathing season. Clearly this was created with a beach in mind, rather a peaceful upland river.

Volunteer programme

CRKC is a volunteer-led group with an active support network of over 150 volunteers. We run training and social events, produce regular volunteer updates and a have bi-monthly report in the SENS newsletter.

Our volunteers are involved in a wide range of activities, including citizen science, research, campaigning, attending meetings and discussions, organising events and co-ordinating publicity.

If you have skills you think would be useful to CRKC and are interested in volunteering please email

River clean-ups

We organise river clean-ups to remove and recycle or dispose of rubbish in and on the banks of the river Kent. For the last few years, we’ve been part of a river clean-up event for Kendal Mountain Festival, organised in association with Save our Rivers & Trash Free Trails.


We campaign to draw attention to the crisis facing our rivers and to hold those in positions of power to account.

In September 2023, we organised a petition to present to Louise Beardmore, CEO of United Utilities. The petition called on United Utilities to put an end to years of sewage being discharged onto Staveley streets and into the precious local river Kent.

We’ll present Ms Beardmore with the petition during her upcoming visit to Staveley, scheduled for early 2024 – read more here.

River Illness survey

CRKC has created a river illness survey survey to gather information about incidents of people getting ill after coming into contact with river Kent water. We’ll plot these locations on our interactive map (here’s a user guide) to build up a picture of where and when incidents are occurring, to help inform future campaigns.

Raising awareness

Promotion, publicity & events

CRKC issues regular press releases about our activities, which have generated significant local, regional and national coverage. We also host regular events, exhibitions, presentations and socials.

You can stay up to date with our news and what’s coming up by following us on Facebook and receiving our bi-monthly newsletter – email to join the mailing list.

Networking & community engagement

We regularly organise activities and stands at a local events, as well as giving talks to organisations including the Women’s Institute & Rotary Club, to Cumbria Sustainability Network, and at local authority meetings. In partnership with South Cumbria Rivers Trust, we’ve held river dipping events in Staveley and worked with Staveley school.

If you’d like us to attend your event or meeting to give a presentation about our work, please email