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Earth observation Applications for the Water Sector

The Water Research Commission (WRC) and the South African Group on Earth Observation (SAGEO) engaged in Boksburg with specialist focussing on Earth Observation (EO) to share findings from research and explore further applications as well as to identify research gaps and possible support platforms to create partnerships to strengthen the community of practice.

Opening the workshop Dr. Mandla Msibi from the WRC acknowledged the important role of SA-GEO and applications that can assist the water sector with the monitoring of floods, droughts, water quality, water-ecosystems, soil-water-climate interaction and sustainability of water resources.

Current international initiatives such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems 10-Year Implementation Plan have identified earth observation as the key to helping to solve the world’s water problems. The availability of spatial information on water resources will enable closure of the water budget at river basin scales to the point where effective water management is possible. Floods, droughts, water quality, water-ecosystem and soil-water-climate interactions, and the sustainability of water resources are important issues in water resources management and hydrology. Effective management of water resources can be greatly aided by methods which allow for timely and accurate data collection.

The use of Earth Observation (EO) technologies such as satellite based monitoring can be very useful as it can provide a cost-effective means of replacing or complimenting field data collection. Some of the main benefits of EO data are that it can provide coverage over large and remote areas with systematic, repetitive data captures. EO data can also be integrated with field or remotely collected data (i.e. real-time) to produce effective up-to-date predictive and analytical products