Satellite-Based Water Quality Monitoring Service

Period of Performance

October 2009 - September 2023

The Satellite-Based Water Quality Monitoring Service leverages Earth observing satellite information to assess historical water quality changes of in-land trans-boundary lakes. The service uses Google Earth Engine and the Tethys platform to process and display Landsat, Sentinel, and MODIS Earth observation data for mapping water quality parameters including Chlorophyll-a, lake surface temperature, and total suspended matter. The service also analyzes Earth observation data to generate static maps of the coverage of water hyacinth and land use and land cover for specific epochs. SERVIR partners with organizations such as the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization to further calibrate and validate this data. The resulting products are hosted in a water quality decision support web application where users can access them to support their decision-making processes related to land management and efforts to control the pollutants that contribute to poor water quality.


Lake Victoria is the second largest source of freshwater in the world and a critical freshwater resource in East Africa, covering 68,800 km2 with a catchment that spans 193,000 km2. It is an important source of food, energy, drinking and irrigation water, and transportation while also serving as a repository for agricultural, human and industrial waste generated in the catchment. Increasing population and the subsequent high demand for food puts additional pressure on the lake basin as natural land is converted to agriculture and urban environments. Additionally, the lake and surrounding catchment transcends five international boundaries, complicating monitoring and management. Thus, collecting the in situ data to guide informed decision making across this vast region is challenging. Remote sensing is currently the only tool capable of providing synoptic information on regional landscape-scale environmental changes and water quality parameters in a timely fashion.