How healthy is your local lake or pond?
By taking part in the survey, you’ll help scientists learn more about how polluted our lakes and ponds 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.
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 you find in your local pond you’ll discover more about the water's health and contribute to valuable scientific research.
The best time to do this survey is from May to November.
How to take part
- Step 1 – Print the documents in English below, or in Welsh, ideally in colour.
- Step 2 – You'll need a few household items (listed in the field guide) and some pH strips (available from most garden centres).
- Step 3 – Choose a suitable pond or lake. We've prepared a guide to help you find a pond.
- Step 4 – Tell us what you find using our simple online form.
Enter your results online
Once you've completed the survey, simply submit your results:
Problems entering your survey results online?
Send your results to:
OPAL, Centre for Environmental Policy,
London SW7 2AZ.
Downloads – what you need to take part
- Water Survey Booklet (PDF, 1.5MB)
Full instructions and invertebrate guide.
- Freshwater Invertebrate Identification Guide (PDF, 598KB)
- Amphibian Identification Guide (PDF, 367KB)
- Dragonflies Identification Guide (PDF, 197KB)
- Duckweeds Identification Guide (PDF, 215KB)
- OPALometer (PDF, 29KB)
A printable OPALometer for measuring water clarity.
- Water Survey recording sheet (PDF, 124 KB)
Easy-to-print recording sheets (black and white).
Download all the resources above as a single ZIP file:
- Complete OPAL Water Survey pack (ZIP, 2.7MB)
Need more pH strips?
Email your address and the number you require to email@example.com
Looking for the Welsh language survey pack?
- Visit the Water Survey page in Welsh
By downloading this survey you agree to the terms and conditions for the OPAL Water Survey
Download our group leader support guide, example risk assessment, and our new recording sheets for schools:
- Group leaders support (PDF, 388KB)
Group leaders may benefit from our support pack with information and ideas on planning a group event, and additional safety information from the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA).
Children's activity sheets
Test your water knowledge and learn fascinating facts with our water activities for youngsters.
10 tips for healthy ponds
Create the perfect pond by following these top tips from OPAL scientists and Buglife.
- Pond tips (PDF, 134KB)
Show you care
Please respect our environment
Ponds and lakes are home to important creatures.
A good biosecurity routine is essential to reduce the risk of spreading invasive species: