17 Sep 2020

SmartSat and CSIRO commence AquaWatch project to boost national water quality management with space technology

Satellites in space and a network of ground-based sensors could be used to monitor the quality of Australia’s inland waterways, reservoirs and coastal environments. A 12-month scoping study for the new technology is part of a mission under development called AquaWatch Australia.

The AquaWatch Australia mission, being developed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) is one of a number of missions – large research initiatives – aimed at solving Australia’s greatest challenges. They are focused on outcomes that lead to positive impact, new jobs and economic growth. In this case ensuring we can maintain and manage water quality – our most important and vital resource.

Natural events such as toxic algal blooms, the contamination of drinking water, and excess runoff from irrigation all present a significant influence to the health of our inland and coastal waters.

Having real-time data about these events and our waterways supports water managers in monitoring and managing water quality.
Data gathered from space provides critical insights about water quality, however, currently available Earth observation satellites only provide 60-70% coverage for major Australian water bodies. And while the quality of some inland waterways is monitored directly by testing, this data isn’t routinely combined with satellite data.

To fill this gap, AquaWatch aims to complement existing systems and build a comprehensive national monitoring system using an extensive network of ground-based sensors placed throughout Australia’s rivers and waterways.

Read the Media Release here.