About RiverWatch

What is the best way to study a river? We think it's by taking a river trip aboard large inflated rafts equipped as floating laboratories!

Alberta RiverWatch helps science classes to explore a 10 km section of their local river during a raft float trip. Along the way, students make shoreline stops to conduct water chemistry and biology tests. Back at school, the water quality data is used to answer the question, "How healthy is your river?"

This web site is designed to support river ecology studies undertaken by 10,000 students each year across Alberta.

The information collected and presented at this site is used in several Alberta secondary science courses:

Grade Course Unit
8 Science 8 Freshwater Ecosystems
9 Science 9 Environmental Chemistry
11 Biology 20 Ecosystems & the Biosphere
11 Science 20 Change in Living Systems
12 Science 30 Chemistry in the Environment


"The RiverWatch vision is that every Alberta secondary student experiences a river field study and understands that healthy rivers matter."CRA number 889731857RR0001

River monitoring has had a long and distinguished history with Alberta educators. The Alberta RiverWatch Science Program has made four significant contributions to further enhance these efforts:

  • Otherwise costly lab equipment is made available to participating schools
  • Experienced river guides provide assistance during a field trip
  • The rafting adventure involves each student as an active learner
  • The web site ensures that collected data is preserved and shared


The RiverWatch Science Program helps students answer the "big" question," How healthy is your river?" In order to answer that question, students must first learn ecosystem concepts, lab skills and critical analysis. Our students use science as a tool in the construction of shared knowledge.

The central focus of a day with RiverWatch is the taking of water quality measurements above and below a point source of pollution such as a wastewater treatment plant. (We take our students to all the best places!)

How healthy is your river? Students from many different schools collect physics, chemistry and biology data during fifty days of field research each year. The data collection has been done over many years and along the length of various rivers. The end result is a picture of overall river health and human impact in Alberta.

Students have easy access to an on-line database and they are encouraged to critique water quality, judge environmental health and address personal actions that affect water quality. As more and more students investigate their rivers first-hand, we hope they'll be motivated to protect and manage water quality for the benefit of wildlife, safe drinking water and recreation.