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Mission overview

Managing the health of inland and coastal waters

Together with partners we aim to design and build an extensive network of purpose-designed Earth observation satellites and ground-based sensors to monitor the quality of Australia’s rivers and coastal and inland waterways with real-time data and predictive analysis.

AquaWatch will support water managers to monitor natural events such as toxic algal blooms, the contamination of drinking water, and excess runoff from irrigation and will increase the resilience of rural and regional communities that depend on water for agriculture and improve environmental outcomes.

As well as monitoring the health of our inland rivers, dams and waterways, AquaWatch will also have potential application to monitor coastal wetlands, aquaculture farms, riparian vegetation and terrestrial biodiversity, mine sites, mangroves and coral reef environments.

Potential impact

The potential impacts are varied and have the potential to include:

  • Improved management of vital safe drinking water and water resources including the health of the Murray Darling and the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Development of advanced Australian manufacturing and engineering.
  • An early warning system to reduce economic impacts to fishing and tourism of harmful algae blooms and contaminants.
  • Greater support for the development of data analytics platforms, programs and data value-adding jobs that integrate prediction modelling, data analysis and environmental monitoring.
  • Enhanced urban and regional water resource management.

Proposed focus

The key areas of focus for the AquaWatch mission include:

  • Infrastructure and data services
  • Earth observation satellites
  • Network of ground-based sensors
  • Predictive data modelling for real-time decisions


Project roadmap

Initial Scoping Phase - Now to June 2021

In collaboration with the SmartSat CRC, we will conduct extensive user consultation and market analysis to ensure a comprehensive understanding of end-user requirements from across Australia. We are seeking input from water quality managers, water utility operators, primary industries, aquaculture, irrigators and government agencies at federal, state and local level.

This process will provide engineering options for space technologies and ground-based monitoring capabilities as part of a full mission concept of operation and design.

July 2021 to 2025

In-situ ground-based system design and implementation with pilot trials, and development of analytics platforms. Design and build of the next generation of linked Earth observation satellites.

From 2026

Satellite launch and AquaWatch system operations.


Working together for a more resilient Australia

Success depends on strong collaboration across industry, research and governments. Together we can leverage existing knowledge and capabilities and develop new solutions for a more resilient Australia.

CSIRO is partnering with the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre and early research collaborators including the University of Queensland, UNSW Canberra, Curtin University, Frontier SI, Water Research Australia and SatDek.

We are seeking additional partners to help us reach our goal of a safeguarding water quality across Australia. International partners are welcome to connect on this opportunity.

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