IMPROVING THE ACCURACY OF EXTRACTING SURFACE WATER QUALITY LEVELS (SWQLs) USING REMOTE SENSING AND ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORK: A CASE STUDY IN THE SAINT JOHN RIVER, CANADA
Keywords: Remote Sensing, Artificial Intelligence, Surface Water Quality Level, Water Quality Index, Landsat-8 Imagery, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
Abstract. Delineating accurate surface water quality levels (SWQLs) always presents a great challenge to researchers. Existing methods of assessing surface water quality only provide individual concentrations of monitoring stations without providing the overall SWQLs. Therefore, the results of existing methods are usually difficult to be understood by decision-makers. Conversely, the water quality index (WQI) can simplify surface water quality assessment process to be accessible to decision-makers. However, in most cases, the WQI reflects inaccurate SWQLs due to the lack of representative water samples. It is very challenging to provide representative water samples because this process is costly and time consuming. To solve this problem, we introduce a cost-effective method which combines the Landsat-8 imagery and artificial intelligence to develop models to derive representative water samples by correlating concentrations of ground truth water samples to satellite spectral information. Our method was validated and the correlation between concentrations of ground truth water samples and predicted concentrations from the developed models reached a high level of coefficient of determination (R2) > 0.80, which is trustworthy. Afterwards, the predicted concentrations over each pixel of the study area were used as an input to the WQI developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to extract accurate SWQLs, for drinking purposes, in the Saint John River. The results indicated that SWQL was observed as 67 (Fair) and 59 (Marginal) for the lower and middle basins of the river, respectively. These findings demonstrate the potential of using our approach in surface water quality management.