Remote Sensing of Water Quality using Drones in Ak-Buura River of Osh city, Kyrgyzstan - RESQ-DABRO (Save the water welfare)

Duration: 2 years

Start: 15.06.2017

Project Title: RESQ-DABRO the Acronym of the project comes from two words: “RESQ”, i.e. rescue, save, conserve and a Russian pronunciation of word “Добро” (“DABRO”) with a meaning of wealth and welfare. The whole idea of the project is to transfer a recent “know-how” using relatively cheap equipment in the sake of clear water supply.

The main goal of the project is to determine water quality (WQ) parameters concentrations and retention areas along river Ak-Buura, Osh Kyrgyzstan based on remotely sensed data including Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or Drones. Using water quality as the main topic of this project we address all three research fields of this call - health care, food security and, of course, water supply.

Water is a key ingredient to food security. Lack of clear water can be a major cause of famine and undernourishment, especially in areas where people depend on local agriculture for food and income. In the case of Ak-Buura River – it gives more important because it flows from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan.

Conventional water quality monitoring comprises a series of observations, measurement and analysis of the samples. WQ parameters are affected by physical, chemical or biological properties. Monitoring is usually done in-situ and samples are then transported to a laboratory for analysis. This methodology has several drawbacks. It requires time-consuming field work, highly trained personnel and specialized equipment, mostly expensive. Additionally, the data obtained through this way is based on temporally sparse sampling at fixed monitoring stations.

On the other hand, optical indications (i.e. Remote Sensing) of water quality have the potential of enhancing the abilities for resource managers to monitor water bodies in a timely and cost-effective manner. In the recent years, a broad scope of methodologies has been developed to detect environmental indicators that are useful in assessing, quantifying and monitoring inland water quality based on remotely sensed data. Remote sensing techniques have been successfully applied in estimating water quality parameters such as depth, chlorophyll (CHL) and total suspended sediments (TSS). These optical parameters are obtained using multispectral and multispectral RS data. The high spectral resolution from a hyperspectral sensor allows you to identify materials, whereas multispectral sensors only allow you to discriminate between materials.

Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country and often referred to as the "capital of the south". The Ak-Buura River runs through the city from South to North. The Ak-Buura River is a left tributary of the Kara Darya (i.e. flows neighbouring Uzbekistan). The river is formed at the north slopes of Alai Mountains. The river is 148 kilometres long, and the watershed covers 2,530 square kilometres. The long-term average discharge of the river at Tuleyken gauging post (North of Osh city) is 21.4 cubic metres per second. Ak-Buura River goes through parks in Osh City, but instead of being a source of beauty and freshness, it is polluted with rubbish. In summer, a lot of children and young people swim in this river.

The project consists of research and educational components.

The research activity is based on followings major steps:

  1. Collecting in-situ and remotely sensed UAV data simultaneously;
  2. Using statistical methods to try and correlate the remotely sensed data with the water quality parameter concentrations measured in the laboratory;
  3. Deriving of 3D point cloud and orthophotos of monitored sites in order to show a “bird view” on pollution process. DEM extraction for retention areas mapping. Reporting results.