You were in the support group for this analysis - what surprised you most about the results?
I was surprised by the enormous number of possible micropollutants - starting materials, intermediates, by-products and transformation products, active substances or solvents - as well as the sometimes extremely high loads. In many cases, wastewater from a single operation can already lead to significant water pollution It is astonishing that this situation is not limited to one industry or one large-scale operation or one region in Switzerland.
Eawag does a lot of research on domestic wastewater and its treatment. Should it now (also) pay more attention to industrial and commercial wastewater?
The report clearly shows the importance of commercial and industrial wastewater on water quality. In my view, it is therefore inevitable that Eawag should devote more attention to this issue. Eawag should develop conceptual approaches to solutions in cooperation with associations and industry. The company-specific measures are the responsibility of the companies. Therefore, Eawag is already very active in this research area in a number of projects. A research institute in particular cannot say "The problem is too complex and multi-layered, so we'll leave it alone".
The situation analysis shows a need for action, writes the VSA. Where should we start in order to be able to reduce the burdens from industry and commerce as quickly as possible?
There is certainly no one-fits-all solution. The problem is too multifaceted for that. We need to start with production (keyword "green chemistry" or "begnin-by-design") as well as with decentralised wastewater pretreatment and extended, centralised wastewater treatment. In some projects, we have seen that intensive exchange and discussion with companies and industry associations based on concrete measurements alone have triggered awareness of the problem and thus a change in behaviour (i.e. measures). However, systematic recording of substance discharges is certainly needed first in order to be able to start this discussion properly. Part of the solution to the problem is certainly also the dissemination of information through events, training courses and information brochures in cooperation with the industry associations.