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Using Satellite Imagery to Detect and Monitor Small-Scale Surface Water Ponds in Jordan

Authors: Christopher Orner*, University of California - Berkeley, Luke Macaulay, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: surface water, reservoirs, remote sensing
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Small-scale surface water collection ponds are a relatively low-cost, but long-term, intervention method to support local water supplies for rural communities and livestock. The ability to monitor collection ponds’ water supply is critical to effective management. However, many ponds are built without monitoring equipment because of financial, logistical, or technical constraints. Monitoring small collection ponds constructed in remote, arid environments is especially challenging because regular site visits can be prohibitively expensive given time requirements and travel costs. In this study, we developed an approach to monitor small-scale reservoirs (<50,000m2) using Sentinel 2 imagery and site schematics in Google Earth Engine. Other approaches have been developed using Landsat imagery for larger reservoirs, but they have excluded sites this small, which provide critical water resources for rural communities. This new approach relies on (1) thresholding the modified normalized difference water index (MNDWI) to quantify water surface area, and (2) estimating volume using site schematics. We apply this approach to 100+ rainwater collection ponds in Jordan, where the Jordan Ministry of Agriculture has constructed collection ponds to capture surface water runoff. This tool provides a low-cost approach to identify ponds that require maintenance, inform watershed models, and evaluate candidate locations for new ponds.

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