ESA title


  • ACTIVITYDemonstration Project
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAFood & Agriculture, Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources

Objectives of the service

Water managers all over the world are confronted with increasing challenges related to climate change. Floods and drought resulting from increasingly severe weather conditions cause worldwide economic damage, loss 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 can even cause more water problems.

The OWASIS-NL CCN consortium believes adequate information is key to solving current and future water challenges. The consortium provides an innovative services to improve water resource management. This application is 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. This is where OWASIS-NL CCN can make a difference.

Users and their needs

This project demonstrates the Water Auditing service. These services provide state-of-the-art information on water resource use to water managers. The CCN phase of the project demonstrates the Water Auditing service for additional use cases in South Africa as well as water managers in Colombia and The Netherlands.

Service/ system concept

South Africa is facing a severe water shortage. To regulate the amount of water being used for irrigation, South Africa introduced a water licensing mechanism in the National Water Act (NWA). This mechanism ensures equal distribution and efficient use of the available water resources. Auditing on compliance of water allocation is a major challenge for water managers in South Africa. Irrigated fields are spread over a vast area and the number of fields to audit is enormous.

The Water Auditing service greatly enhances the effectiveness of the agency to audit water use. The service uses evapotranspiration data from satellites, and rainfall data from rain gauges and radar to calculate water use linked to irrigation. The information is compared with the allocated amount of water to evaluate water use per farm. This information is displayed in graph and map format on various spatial scales.


The following activities are covered under the CCN phase the project:

  • Adapt the water auditing service for Irrigation Boards, which cover a smaller area than regional water managers and require more detailed information on water use.

  • Expand the water auditing service to regional water authorities in Colombia.

  • Adapt the water auditing service to provide Dutch water authorities insight in spatial occurrence of irrigation in The Netherlands

Space Added Value

Information on water distribution can be obtained from a number of resources like 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 more data becomes available that could benefit water managers.

Two types of space assets will be integrated in the OWASIS-NL CCN Water Auditing service: 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 provide a clear added value compared to other available technology: 

  • The service requires 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 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.

Current Status

  • October 2020: start of CCN: upscale Water Auditing services to include other use-cases and countries.

  • December 2020: user requirement workshops in The Netherlands, Colombia and South Africa

  • January 2021: completion of the baseline design review (BRD) and completion of the critical design review (CDR)

  • October 2021 – Successful completion of factory acceptance test

  • November 2021 – Successful completion of site acceptance test

  • December 2021 – Start of pilot activities with users in the Netherlands and South Africa

  • March 2022 - completion of the pilot activities & acquisition activities. Pilot was successful. 

  • March 2022: Pilot project was finalized. Opportunities for upscaling to other use-cases and other countries are being investigated.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 13 March 2023