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Eyes above on Australian waterway health

Scientists are looking to space to help monitor the health of Australia’s waterways.

Satellites will play an integral role in a 12-month study looking at the quality of inland waterways, reservoirs and coastlines, the CSIRO says.

AquaWatch Australia is designed to detect occurrences including algal blooms, contaminated drinking water and irrigation runoff – each of which can present environmental hazards.

“The outcomes could lead to a step-change in Australia’s national water quality information delivery,” CSIRO Earth Observation Director Alex Held said.

The study will use a network of ground-based sensors throughout waterways.

“These sensors would work together with purpose-designed earth observation satellites to deliver real-time updates, predictive analytics and forecast warnings to water managers,” the CSIRO said.

Mine sites, coastal wetlands, aquaculture farms, mangroves and coral reefs are among the areas to be monitored.

Of particular interest will be the Murray Darling Basin and Great Barrier Reef.

The monitoring system is hoped to be established by 2026.

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