24 Aug 2021

New satellite system would enhance water quality management in Australia

Analysis conducted at UNSW Canberra has demonstrated that a new space-based Earth observation system would be a valuable piece of infrastructure for monitoring and managing Australia’s inland and coastal waterbodies.

The scoping study was one of the first steps in the AquaWatch Australia water quality management mission, a joint initiative between CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). It was conducted at Australia’s premier space mission development centre, the Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF) at UNSW Canberra.

AquaWatch is a partnership between the CSIRO and SmartSat which aims to use space technologies to provide continuous monitoring of the quality of Australia’s fresh and coastal water bodies; a critical national resource.   

Data gathered from space provides critical insights about water quality and natural events including toxic algal blooms, the contamination of drinking water and excess runoff from irrigation.

Earth observation satellites currently only provide 60-70 per cent coverage for major Australian water bodies, and while the quality of some inland waterways is monitored directly by testing, this data is not routinely combined with satellite data.

AquaWatch aims to complement existing systems and build a comprehensive national monitoring system to deliver real-time updates, predictive analytics and forecast warnings to water managers.

Read the media release here.

View the Report.