Water quality is essential for public health, ecosystem health and the economy. Degraded water quality can occur as a result of pollution from sewage discharge, oil spills, industrial waste, agricultural runoff, storm water runoff, and sediment runoff. Impacts of poor water quality include exposure to disease and harmful chemicals, reduction in viability of impact economically important fisheries species, hypoxia events and destruction of ecosystems. As coastal populations and development increase, coastal environments become at greater risk for water quality issues.
Earth observations play a vital role in supplying decision makers with data and information about water quality. Ground-based (in situ) observations and satellite observations can be used together to monitor and forecast water quality across the globe.