MDBA launches new satellite monitoring trial

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has announced the launch of its new satellite monitoring program, aimed at helping measuring the ecological benefits of releasing water in the northern Basin, after a similar project successfully used satellites to guard against water theft.

In partnership with the Commonwealth Water Holder (CWH), the MDBA’s program will see the use of satellite imaging to observe how environmental flows help in reviving pockets of the drought-affected Macquarie River and Macquarie Marshes and strengthen the resilience of fish, birds and vegetation ahead of expected ongoing dry conditions.

MDBA’s Chief Executive Phillip Glyde said that the images will be used in conjunction with on-the-ground data collection and other forms of data acquisition to paint a fuller picture of how environmental flows can be used to alleviate drought affected areas.

"The satellite images will help us measure the speed, flow and spread of the water through the Macquarie River and Macquarie Marshes, and should provide valuable information on how the water is benefitting the local ecology," Mr Glyde said.

"The trial of the satellite technology follows our success in using satellites to track a major watering event through the Barwon and Darling Rivers earlier in the year, where the images helped ensure the water was not diverted for unauthorised use.

"This time, we'll be using the information to help study how the water is changing the river environment and inundating vegetation as it heads towards the Barwon River."

The MDBA will use images from the Sentinel satellites operated by the European Space Agency, accessed through Australia's largest supercomputer the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), based at The Australian National University.

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