OWASIS - Improved water availability information
Water managers all over the world are confronted with new challenges related to climate change. Floods and droughts resulting from increasingly severe weather conditions cause worldwide economic damage, degradation of nature, increased political and societal tensions and ultimately the loss of lives.
The lack of proper information on water availability is one of the most challenging obstacles in water management, especially in the less developed economies. In many cases data is not available, incomplete or inaccessible. This leads to ineffective or erroneous decision making and may cause subsequent water problems.
Adequate water availability information is key to solving current and future water challenges. Two innovative services are provided in OWASIS to improve water resource management. These applications are the soil water storage capacity service and the water auditing service.
Water managers have a wide range of technological measures at their disposal to prevent and mitigate the effects of floods and drought. With limited time and financial resources, it is crucial to facilitate the decision-making process with proper, undisputed and timely information.
Added value of space assets
Information on water distribution are obtained from various sources such as: observations from the crowd, gauges, in situ-sensors, remote sensing and models. The last couple of decades the opportunities to monitor water availability from space have become more and more promising. With the launch of new satellites such as the Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2 programmes, more data becomes available which benefit water managers.
Two types of space assets are integrated in the OWASIS services: Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation. Earth observation is used to obtain the precipitation forecasts, soil moisture contents and evapotranspiration data. GNNS technology is used to obtain the location of the user to provide local data on his mobile phone or tablet and for geotagging of in-situ measurements required for validation and calibration.
Space assets further provide a clear added value compared to other available technology:
- Both services require high resolution evapotranspiration data. The input data is gained from multiple satellite sources and after pre-processing used to calculate water usage information monthly. Without EO technology it would not be possible to produce high resolution evapotranspiration images.
- The soil storage capacity service uses the Harmonie (Netherlands) and GFS / ECMWF numerical weather forecast models. These models use a variety of data sources including satellite observations.
- The usage of space assets allows frequent, repetitive, and objective monitoring of water use in large areas. EO provides regular data on water usage, it is impossible to do in situ inspections at this scale and interval due to budget limitations.
Application of OWASIS technologies
The Netherlands: OWASIS information products
South Africa: Water auditing
Client: European Space Agency (ESA) – European Space Research and Technology