Streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater are under pressure. Many waterbodies and watercourses are polluted by fertiliser residues, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. They are channelled, straightened and otherwise regulated. They are also affected by the generation of hydropower. Moreover, introduced plants and animals as well as climate change are having an ever greater negative impact.
As Europe’s water tower, Switzerland has substantial water resources. Despite the generally good quality of its water, residues from fertilizer and plant protection products, micropollutants, man-made structures and artificial obstacles damage its surface and underground waters. Analyses and predictions of water levels and flows make it possible to issue early flood warnings.
The federal water protection legislation promotes the rehabilitation of rivers and lakes with a view to restoring their natural functions and boosting their social benefits. An additional treatment stage shall be added to wastewater treatment plants to reduce micropollutant levels in water bodies.
Given that one fifth of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, the protection of drinking-water resources is a priority issue at global level. In view of its experience in the area of freshwater management, Switzerland is keen to contribute to the international efforts for the preservation of this essential resource.