WaterMonitor analyses Flemish water quality by satellite View watermonitor in demo-version

Posted on - Han Tambuyzer
Monitoring water quality by hand isn’t always very efficient, which is why the WaterMonitor now uses satellite imagery to see how clean Flemish water really is.

Rain and water, it’s nothing new in Flanders. But nevertheless the management and monitoring of our waterways could be more efficient. Which is why Nazka Mapps, in cooperation with the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM) and VITO, designed the WaterMonitor.

Today VMM checks the water quality of Flemish lakes and rivers by hand and they have report to EC about it. They do this by sending a team into the field, who test the water in specific places. They for example see what kind of substances are in the water, or how clear it is. Based on that data, they report whether the quality is in line with, or below, the required norms.

But that system could work more efficiently. Manual tests for example cost a lot of time, and are very labour intensive. Which is why Nazka, in cooperation with VITO, built an interactive water quality map from satellite images.

To start, VITO designed an algorithm that takes images from the Copernicus satellites of the European Space Agency, and uses them to determine water quality. Nazka then takes that data, analyses and visualises it. That way we can see what the water quality is for our lakes and rivers, and VMM isn’t dependent anymore on individual field tests. 

Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the need for local measurements and tests. But it does allow the VMM to work in a more focused way, and save resources.

For now the WaterMonitor is still in the demo stage. But in the future we will be able to visualise imagery in real-time and even send out alerts when the water quality goes down too much.

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