National Surface Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NAWA)

The National Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network (NAWA) enables the FOEN, in collaboration with other federal institutions and cantons, to document and evaluate the state of and changes in Swiss bodies of water on a national level.

To effectively protect bodies of water, it is necessary to have sufficient knowledge of their state so that changes are recognised and measures can be suggested, where necessary. Pollution and water protection problems do not stop at political borders. For that reason, surface water monitoring must be focused on the catchment areas of bodies of water and coordinated between the cantons.

Zustand der Schweizer Fliessgewässer

This publication does not exist in English. It is available in other languages. 2016

NAWA goals

  • Obtain an overview of the state of surface waters in Switzerland: simple, uniform and comparable throughout Switzerland
  • Document the medium and long-term changes in the state of surface waters
  • Lay the foundations for the early detection of problematic changes and for steering national water protection policy
  • Provide a uniform data pool for in-depth analyses
  • Monitor the performance of current and future water protection measures and other policy areas

The cantons conduct their own surveys by monitoring the state of waterbodies and to enforce water protection legislation. NAWA does not replace these surveys, which are conducted with adapted methods at many monitoring sites.

Monitoring concept

NAWA – Nationale Beobachtung Oberflächengewässerqualität

This publication does not exist in English. It is available in other languages. 2013

NAWA surveys are conducted in close cooperation between the federal government and the cantons and are coordinated by the FOEN. The concept provides for the following levels of monitoring:

  • TREND: Basic long-term monitoring network
    The TREND monitoring programme is designed to provide a long-term overview of the state of Swiss watercourses. In addition, watercourses are studied at monitoring sites distributed across Switzerland using the same, uniform set of parameters. Since 2011, chemical and physical parameters have been recorded at 111 monitoring sites, whereas the first biological surveys took place in 2012.
  • SPEZ: Problem-related special monitoring
    Specific issues are clarified with temporary monitoring programmes. These surveys take place at selected monitoring sites that are closely studied using specific methods. As part of these surveys, a screening analysis was conducted in 2012 on plant protection products and biocide active ingredients at five monitoring sites. Other programmes are being developed on an ongoing basis.
  • NADUF: Long-term study of sediment load in rivers
    The National River Monitoring and Survey Programme (NADUF) monitors changes in concentrations and loads of important substances in the water of selected Swiss rivers. Since 1972, chemical parameters (nutrients, geogenic substances, heavy metals), the level (discharge) as well as water temperature, electrical conductivity, pH and oxygen are continuously studied at selected sites (samples are collected).

NAWA is limited primarily to rivers and streams, but lake studies are being planned for the future.


Further information

Last modification 14.09.2021

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