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Many viruses, like the Coxsackie virus pictured above, are transmitted to humans by way of liquids. (Photo: Shutterstock)
November 13, 2018

Many infectious viruses are transferred to humans from water or other liquids. A microbiologist at Eawag has now investigated how high the risk of infection is when someone comes into contact with polluted water. Read more

Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag
November 12, 2018

Michael Berg, head of the Eawag Water Resources and Drinking Water department, has been appointed adjunct professor with the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). His appointment is linked to becoming one of the members of the “UNESCO Chair on Groundwater Arsenic”, which is based at the USQ. Read more

Range of species used in the experimental protocol of the study on the dispersion of species. (Images: Julien Cote)
November 8, 2018

It is common among many species for individuals to move around during their lifetime in order to settle in better adapted habitats, a process known as dispersion by ecologists. In order to improve scientific predictions of the future of biodiversity in the face of global changes it is very important to understand the mechanisms of dispersion. Read more

Using tiny DNA fragments, even rare species are discovered in bodies of water (Photo: Pixabay).
November 6, 2018

Bits of genetic material in rivers make it possible to detect the organisms living in them – without having to collect these and examine them under the microscope. Researchers at Eawag, the ETH and the EPFL have now developed a computer model that with the help of single DNA measurements even simulates exactly where and how often the species are present in bodies of water. Read more

Gut bacteria Roseburia intestinalis stained with SYBR Green I and propidium iodide (SGPI). In bacteria with an intact membrane, only SG can penetrate and they thus appear green. (Photo: ETH Zurich, Lea Bircher)
October 30, 2018

Probiotics – live bacteria with beneficial effects on human health – are believed to hold out great promise for certain therapeutic applications. But do these bacteria remain viable when they are frozen or freeze-dried for storage? Eawag’s expertise in drinking water microbiology enabled to it provide valuable support for a study of gut microbes carried out in the Food Biotechnology Laboratory at ETH Zurich. Read more

Photo: Ilja Tschanen, module plus
October 24, 2018

Yesterday, the Ecotox Centre Eawag-EPFL celebrated its tenth anniversary in the City Hall of Berne. Around 80 guests from politics, administration, science, and practice toasted the successful establishment of the Centre and the milestones achieved over the past 10 years. Read more

Local residents carrying a Water Wall through Mukuru, an informal settlement in Nairobi, where this earlier model was field-tested in 2015. (Photo: EOOS)
October 22, 2018

Even though the water we’ve used for washing our hands is barely contaminated, it usually disappears down the drain, never to be used again. A newly developed system allows handwashing water to be recycled, thus not only saving water, but also helping to prevent infectious diseases in developing countries. Read more

Aquatic ecosystems – such as the microbial community pictured here – are often highly diverse. (Photo: E. Mächler/F. Altermatt)
October 18, 2018

Species-rich ecosystems are more resistant to disturbances such as droughts, heatwaves or pesticide inputs – that, at least, is the view widely held by scientists and non-scientists alike. In fact, the situation is more complex, as ecologists from Eawag and Zurich University have now discovered. Under certain environmental conditions, increased species diversity can also lead to an ecosystem becoming more unstable. Read more

The USA is the largest exporter in the world of agricultural products, and therefore of virtual water. The image shows a field being watered in California (Image: Flickr)
October 15, 2018

Global trade is saving water on balance. In principle, this is a good thing. However, the water budget has its dark side – a fact which Eawag researchers have now brought to light. Read more

Stonefly larva (Photo: Silvana Käser, Eawag)
October 11, 2018

Mountain rivers swollen by heavy rainfall deposit large amounts of sediment in reservoirs. To prevent the loss of storage capacity, some reservoirs are equipped with bypass tunnels which convey sediment-laden waters to downstream reaches. The fact that such tunnels offer ecological benefits as well as economic advantages was shown, for example, by a study carried out on the Solis reservoir in Graubünden. Read more

This satellite photo shows Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela on 7 February 2011. The green areas in the lake represent plankton; primarily blue algae, growing under the surface. (Photo: ESA)
October 4, 2018

When does the poisonous blue alga reach its critical point and how does the lake react to heat waves? In the future, satellite pictures will answer these questions in real time. This is demonstrated by an Eawag researcher’s new dataset.  Read more

Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro
October 2, 2018

Research in low- and middle-income countries is an important component of Eawag’s mission. The Eawag Partnership Programme (EPP) was developed to strengthen research and research ties with students and academic institutions in the Global South. 10 years and over 80 fellows from 28 different countries later, EPP celebrates the successful building of bridges and transfer of scientific knowledge. Read more

This decentralised wastewater treatment installation in the Canton of Schwyz treats the wastewater produced by one family. (Photo: Mariane Schneider)
September 27, 2018

Dealing with wastewater right where it is being produced, instead of in central treatment plants, can be more flexible and economical depending on the location. In Switzerland, however, there are very few such decentralised wastewater treatment plants – although, as Eawag researchers have established, there is a surprisingly strong market potential for them.  Read more

Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro
September 25, 2018

Research in low- and middle-income countries is an important component of Eawag’s mission. The Eawag Partnership Programme (EPP) was developed to strengthen research and research ties with students and academic institutions in the Global South. 10 years and over 80 fellows from 28 different countries later, EPP celebrates the successful building of bridges and transfer of scientific knowledge. Read more

Jimenez and his colleague Benedict Borer during a moment of zero gravity. (Image: Eawag)
September 21, 2018

In the future, astronauts on long missions in space will have to take care of their own farming. But will that even work? An unusual experiment by Eawag researcher was designed to find some of the answers. Read more

September 20, 2018

In autumn 1993, Eawag launched a series of courses under the "PEAK" brand (practice-oriented Eawag courses). Read more

Photo: Marie-Elodie Perga
September 18, 2018

Clear mountain lakes could change with ever greater frequency into milky soup in the future. Climate change is the guilty agent. This has been shown by a new study led by the University of Lausanne in collaboration with Eawag and the French National Agricultural Research Institute using the example of a French mountain lake. Read more

Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro
September 14, 2018

Research in low- and middle-income countries is an important component of Eawag’s mission. The Eawag Partnership Programme (EPP) was developed to strengthen research and research ties with students and academic institutions in the Global South. 10 years and over 80 fellows from 28 different countries later, EPP celebrates the successful building of bridges and transfer of scientific knowledge. Read more

View of Lakes Thun (left) and Brienz. (Photo: Carmela Dönz)
September 13, 2018

In Lakes Thun and Brienz, evolutionary biologists from Eawag and Bern University have discovered a new whitefish species. The species, provisionally named “Balchen2”, is clearly differentiated – morphologically, ecologically and genetically – from the five Lake Thun whitefish species previously described. The only lake known to harbour a higher number of whitefish species is the 200 times larger Russian Lake Onega. Read more

Air-stripping installation for nitrogen recovery at the Opfikon wastewater treatment plant. (Photo: Eawag, Aldo Todaro)
September 11, 2018

Wastewater smells foul and is full of pathogens. For these reasons it is usually removed and disposed of quickly. The out-of-sight-out-of-mind strategy is, however, costly and opportunities are lost. At Eawag’s Info Day, experts in practice come together with researchers who are seeking new answers – for example, on how nutrients or heat can be recovered from wastewater. Read more

Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag
September 7, 2018

Eawag has a long history of innovation in the field of source separation technology. To understand this history, its collaborations and contexts, the directorate engaged historian Luke Keogh. His work resulted in the recently published “Flows of Science”, an intimate story of scientists at work. Read more

Thermal energy in lake water is often revealed in autumn: the water is markedly warmer than the air and evaporates – the lake thus becomes especially photogenic. (Photo: Adrien Gaudard, Eawag)
September 5, 2018

Climate warming is not the only cause of temperature changes in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. The use of waterbodies for heating and cooling also leads to increases or decreases in water temperature. There has been little research to date, however, on how this affects aquatic ecosystems. This lack of understanding has been highlighted by a recent literature review carried out at Eawag and the University of Bern. Read more

Artists in Labs: “Land Art” in the Roseg Valley (Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag)
September 3, 2018

In 2017, two artists from Saudi Arabia spent some time at Eawag as part of the Artists in Labs (ail) project and were inspired by research into artistic interpretations, Zahrah Alghamdi and Muhannad Shono. Now ail has created a video for both projects.  Read more

The surge chamber of Switzerland at the junctions of the Aare, Reuss and Limmat (Photo: VBS/DDPS)
August 30, 2018

A long-term study of Switzerland’s major watercourses has been continuing for almost 45 years. An evaluation of the time series shows that as the climate is changing, so are geochemical processes. Most of the measuring stations show an increase in the concentrations of bicarbonate. The changes are caused by increases in temperatures, the presence of nutrients in the lakes and the acidity of the soil. On the other hand, following a peak in the late 1980s, nitrogen concentrations have been decreasing. The reasons for this are a reduced input of nitrogen in agriculture and improved elimination in wastewater treatment. Read more

Modern mass spectrometer at Eawag (Photo: Raoul Schaffner, Eawag)
August 28, 2018

When water samples are analysed with a mass spectrometer, peaks of compounds appear that are completely unknown, or that weren’t being looked for. If these compounds prove subsequently to be of interest to environmental researchers, evidence of their presence can be retrieved from the archived measurements.  Read more

Florian Altermatt, Associate Professor at the University of Zurich, looks, among other things, at biodiversity in riverine ecosystems. (Photo: Univ. of Zurich)
August 28, 2018

Ecologist Florian Altermatt was appointed Associate Professor for Aquatic Ecology by the University Board on 27 August. Florian has been working in Eawag’s Department of Aquatic Ecology for over seven years as Group Head, and was awarded an SNF Research Professorship at the University of Zurich in 2014.  Read more

Cichlids of the genus Astatotilapia in Lake Chala (Photo: Florian N. Moser)
August 24, 2018

Cichlids belong to one of the largest fish families, with new species emerging all the time. These colourful, shimmering fish evolve so fast that Eawag researchers have now been able to practically observe them in the process of their evolution. Read more

Jennifer Inauen (Photo: Eawag)
August 23, 2018

Jennifer Inauen, group head within Eawag’s Environmental Social Sciences Department received the “Early Career Award” at this year’s European Health Psychology Society Conference in Galway. Every year, the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) presents this award in recognition of new talent in the field of health psychology. Read more

Dr. Miriam Langer  (Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag)
August 22, 2018

The constantly growing number of new substances, materials and technologies are opening up new possibilities. However, their impact on the environment is often an unknown quantity and has to be carefully investigated before they are placed on the market. In order to support this process, the School of Life Sciences FHNW and Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, have created a joint professorship. The incumbent professor, Miriam Langer, will take up her post on 1st September in the new FHNW campus in Muttenz. Read more

An Indian woman pumps water from a well. But in many areas there is a high likelihood of the groundwater being contaminated with fluoride. (Image: Dipak Shelare /
August 16, 2018

Fluoride occurs naturally in groundwater. In small amounts, this is usually not a problem, but in India the concentration in many places exceeds the threshold at which is starts to present a health hazard. According to estimates by Eawag researchers, based on new computer models, more than a hundred million people are affected. Read more

Collecting samples on the Sihlsee reservoir. (Photo: SBB)
August 15, 2018

Eawag has studied how various pumped-storage hydropower scenarios affect temperature and water quality in the waterbodies concerned. In the case of Sihlsee, which serves as a reservoir for the SBB Etzelwerk plant, the question of withdrawal depth was found to be crucially important. The study also highlighted the fact that the assessment of environmental impacts largely depends on the definition of the reference state: whereas in natural lakes water is discharged from the surface, in reservoirs it is withdrawn from the lower layer. The environmental and aesthetic impacts of pumped-storage operations in the riparian zone were not examined in this study. Read more

Bernhard Wehrli (Photo: Eawag)
August 10, 2018

Commitment to teaching: Eawag scientist Bernhard Wehrli took over the post of Director of Studies in Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich on August 1, 2018. Read more

Photo: Eawag
August 9, 2018

The development of novel, less costly analytical methods is of crucial importance in addressing the issue of micropollutants in surface waters. This was one of the main goals of EDA-EMERGE, an EU-funded programme in which Eawag also participated. Read more

Foam and algae mean that bathing is no longer a pleasure in the Mar Menor lagoon near La Manga (Spain). Photo: Øyvind Holmstad, CC 3.0
August 6, 2018

Lagoons are valuable natural habitats as well as being good for tourism. In the case of the “Mar Menor” in the Spanish province of Murcia, however, such large quantities of nutrients are entering the unique ecosystem via the groundwater that algal blooms are making swimming impossible. Working together with Eawag, Spanish researchers have been modelling the underground water flows in order to develop better cultivation and water management scenarios. Read more

Thousands and thousands of years of climate history have been archived in stalactites. (pxhere/cc)
August 2, 2018

Eawag, the ETH Zurich and the University of Bern have developed a new instrument: the “Combined Vacuum Crushing and Sieving System” (CVCS). This device makes possible the extraction of minute water and noble gas inclusions that are thousands of years old from the pores of minerals in caves, without distortion by the present atmosphere. Read more

Photo: pixabay
July 27, 2018

Knowledge brokering is a technical term used to describe activities to facilitate mutual learning between researchers, practitioners and policy makers. While frameworks exist for assessing academic impact, few equivalent tools are available for assessing the contributions of knowledge brokers at the interface between research, policy and practice.  Read more

Photo: Kiara Worth
July 26, 2018

Roy Brouwer was invited to be part of a panel discussion during the 2018 session of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York Mid-July. Brouwer is Executive Director of the Water Institute and Professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and visiting Professor at Eawag. Read more

Plastic mulch films characterize the agricultural landscape in many places. (Photo: Luca Lorenzelli, Shutterstock)
July 26, 2018

Thin mulch films made of polyethylene are used in agriculture in numerous countries, where they cause extensive soil contamination. Researchers at ETH Zurich and Eawag have now identified an alternative: films made of the polymer PBAT biodegrade in soils.  Read more

On the surface of various Swiss lakes, the water periodically turns a turquoise colour. This is due to calcite precipitation. (Photo: Sentinel-2 data provided by ESA, 2017)
July 19, 2018

Thanks to Copernicus – the EU Earth Observation Programme initiated in 2014 – environmental researchers now have access to vast amounts of high-quality satellite data. As this is also invaluable for aquatic research, Eawag is currently expanding its capacity in the area of remote sensing. Read more

Almost 100 million plastic spheres reduce evaporation losses from the Los Angeles Ivanhoe reservoir. (Photo: Junkyardsparkle, CC0 1.0)
July 17, 2018

Black plastic balls, which aim to reduce evaporation losses from open-air reservoirs under drought conditions, are not quite as efficient as previously assumed. Considerable quantities of water are already used in their production.  Read more

Water samples for the measurement of glyphosate in Lake Greifen were collected by the Zurich Office for Waste, Water, Energy and Air (AWEL) as part of a cantonal water monitoring programme. (Photo: Sebastian Stötzer)
July 12, 2018

Researchers from Agroscope and Eawag have discovered that, under certain conditions, the herbicide glyphosate is rapidly degraded in Lake Greifen (Greifensee). The evidence strongly suggests that this is due to cyanobacteria using the substance as an alternative source of phosphorus. Read more

On the Blinnenbach stream near Reckingen (canton of Valais), connectivity is disrupted by the weir of the Wannebode hydropower plant. (Photo: Eawag)
July 5, 2018

Small hydropower plants are often constructed on alpine streams, where they may have adverse impacts on sensitive ecosystems. Little is known, however, about the particular effects of individual plants, or the cumulative effects of multiple plants within the same river system. The current state of knowledge has now been reviewed in a study by Eawag researchers.  Read more

Prof. Janet Hering re-elected by the Federal Council (Photo: ETH)
July 4, 2018

Janet Hering will take up her fourth term as Director of Eawag in 2019. Today, the Federal Council re-elected her based on the recommendation of the ETH Board. One of Janet Hering's important goals is that Eawag can integrate and synthesize knowledge from a wide variety of areas and thus make it useful in practice.  Read more

Aurin – Fertilisers from urine (Photo: Peter Penicka, Eawag)
June 28, 2018

Aurin is now authorized by the Federal Office for Agriculture to be used as a fertiliser for every type of plant. Valuable nutrients from human urine are processed into high-quality liquid fertiliser — the upshot of Eawag’s “VUNA” research project. The Eawag spinoff of the same name as the project is now forging ahead with its urine recycling model. Read more

Clostridium bacteria make spores and occur frequently in intestinal flora. (Source: Annie Cavanagh
June 20, 2018

Antibiotic resistance is widespread in bacteria spores and preserved for years, as shown by experiments at Eawag and the University of Neuchâtel. Read more

June 19, 2018

Nanomaterials consist of tiny particles of different composition. They are used, for example, in textiles and can enter aquatic systems directly from the factory, while being worn or disposed of. For years, research groups at Eawag have been investigating the effects of artificially manufactured nanoparticles on human beings and the environment. Their preliminary conclusion: nanoparticles have a reputation worse than they deserve. Read more

June 15, 2018

The CENTAUR sewer control system has been recognized as the ‘Most Innovative New Technology of the Year’ at the 2018 Water Industry Awards in England. CENTAUR stands for ‘Cost Effective Neural Technique for Alleviation of Urban Flood Risk’ and is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. Eawag researchers were part of this project. Read more

Sometimes dry, sometimes flooded: bodies of flowing water that do not carry water permanently contribute considerably to global CO2 turnover. (B. Launay)
June 5, 2018

Biological processes in rivers and brooks emit CO2, partly as a result of decaying plant litter that is deposited in the watercourses from surrounding land. Flowing water thus contributes more to the natural carbon cycle than would a terrestrial ecosystem covering the same area. Up until now, global carbon measures have only taken account of rivers that flow continuously. But about half of the world’s river networks consist of streams that are only periodically flooded. Their CO2 turnover has now been examined for the first time by 94 research institutes from all over the world, among them Eawag and the University of Zurich. Read more

Tropical rainforest in Indonesia
June 1, 2018

Southerly countries are rich in genetic resources. The companies that exploit this natural treasure commercially are very often from the northern, developed world, however. The Nagoya Protocol was created in order to ensure fair use of genetic resources and appropriate compensation.  Read more

An adult female black bean aphid (Aphis fabae) and several of her clonal offspring under attack a by an ovipositing female of the aphid parasitoid Lysiphlebus fabarum. (Photo: Christoph Vorburger, Eawag)
May 28, 2018

Microorganisms that live in symbiosis can sabotage biological methods of pest control by protecting their host from attackers, and host organisms can even pass on these beneficial “passengers” to their offspring. This phenomenon is one which has been paid little attention to date, but thanks to new research findings measures can now be taken to counteract it. Read more

An employee of a toilet supplier scans the QR code of the collected containers. (LooWatt)
May 24, 2018

Payment via mobile, replacement parts made on a 3D-printer, error messages via NFC-tag – Eawag doctoral student Caroline Saul has found some remarkable innovations in companies that market container toilets in developing countries. She sees great potential in making such technologies more widely available. Read more

Graphics: Eawag, Livia Enderli
May 18, 2018

For the second time within short time, Eawag research made it to the cover of the journal “Environmental Science & Technology”. In April, Eawag researcher Urs von Gunten and his team’s paper on understanding the ozonation of phenols was selected for the ACS Editor’s Choice Article and put on the cover of the journal.  Read more

Janet Hering to receive 2018 NWRI Clarke Prize (Photo: ETH)
May 17, 2018

The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) awarded Eawag director Janet Hering with the 2018 NWRI Clarke Prize for outstanding achievement in water science and technology and to honoring her contributions to the safety of drinking water. Janet Hering will receive the Clarke Prize on October 26, 2018, at the Twenty-Fifth Annual NWRI Clarke Prize Award Ceremony in Orange County, California. Read more

Water kiosk in Uganda. (Maryna Peter, FHNW)
May 16, 2018

Ultrafiltration is one of the techniques currently used for disinfecting water – viruses and bacteria are reliably retained by a membrane with extremely small pores. For more than ten years, Eawag has successfully been carrying out research to determine how this method can function using the effect of gravity on water instead of high pressure, cleaning and chemicals. These new discoveries are being applied in increasing numbers of ways. In addition to decentralised drinking water purification, Eawag is now researching uses in areas such as greywater recycling and pre-treatment of seawater for desalination. Read more

Haplochromis ishmaeli (Photo: Erwin Schraml)
May 9, 2018

Lake Victoria in East Africa is known for its vast biodiversity. But according to a report published recently by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to which Eawag also contributed, many species of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants are currently at risk. Read more

With intensive irrigation, there is a risk of nutrients and pesticides loss to groundwater. (Photo: Andri Bryner, Eawag)
May 2, 2018

How can we reduce inputs of plant protection products from agricultural areas into streams and rivers? Experts working in agricultural and surface-water research have undertaken a qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness and practicability of various measures. Read more

The elimination of aquatic environments of adequate size (here on the Doubs near la Motte / JU) is controversial in many areas (Photo: Foen, Ex-Press, Herbert Böhler & Flurin Bertsch).
April 5, 2018

Financial support and the further increase in hydroelectric power, negative effects of plant protection agents and the destruction of aquatic environments were the major themes in Swiss water policy in the year 2017. Read more

Trout were caught and studied in various brooks above and below wastewater treatment plants in order to determine whether and how they react to harmful chemicals (Photo: Eawag).
April 4, 2018

Monitoring the effects of chemicals on environmental systems with many species has always been a challenge. On behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Eawag and the Ecotox Centre-EPFL investigated how the regulation of genes in fish and in single fish cells allow scientists to deduce water quality and fish health. Read more

A lake overgrown with aquatic plants in Vanuatu, July 2017.
January 24, 2018

A research team from the Surface Waters Research and Management Department is investigating the earliest traces of human life in the tropical Pacific. In July 2017, the team undertook an expedition to Vanuatu in Melanesia. The researchers took sediment cores from the lakes and marshes on seven islands in order to test these for indications of the earliest human activities. Read more

Photo: Aldo Todaro
June 29, 2016

In recent decades, Swiss water protection efforts have focused on reducing nutrient inputs; today, one of the main concerns is controlling micropollutants. Read more

Fig. 1: Juvenile whitefish prior to their release from a hatchery into Lake Thun. (Photo: Emanuel Ammon, Ex-Press)
April 21, 2016

In the last century, the natural reproduction of whitefish and Arctic char in several Swiss lakes was adversely affected by high levels of nutrient inputs. So far, stocking measures have been implemented in efforts to support fish populations and maintain yields. The effectiveness of these measures varies according to the particular species and lake. Read more