Our newsletter is published six times a year and provides information on current research and development projects, publications and events at the aquatic research institute Eawag. In addition, two special newsletters a year provide in-depth information on a current research topic at Eawag.

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Special No 02 2022

Focus: Dynamics of water
New tools, new opportunities

To the special of 29 September 2022

Newsletter No 04 2022

Phylogenetic tree reveals: new species of whitefish have emerged in every lake
Also: Legionella, Fluoride, SARS-CoV-2-mutations, virtual fish

To the newsletter of 8 September 2022

Newsletter No 03 2022

The genome of 100,000 African species will be decoded
Also: climate change, nanoplastics, App difficult decisions, experimental ponds

To the newsletter of 30 June 2022

Special No 01 2022

Focus: Decentralised resource recovery from wastewater
New approaches for the sewage system

To the special of 5 May 2022

Newsletter No 02 2022

World Water Day: Swiss groundwater, how are you doing?
Also: biodiversity, antibiotic resistance, black soldier flies

To the newsletter of 18 March 2022

Newsletter No 01 2022

Citizen Science: Knowledge as a weapon in the fight for clean water
Also: ground water network, hospital pathogens and wastewater treatment

To the newsletter of 8 February 2022


Dr. Bärbel Zierl Science editor Tel. +41 58 765 6840 Send Mail

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      Newsletter 2021

      Newsletter No 06 2021

      Fish inventory in 35 lakes completed
      Also: Water-Timeline, articifial intelligence, toilettes, biodiversity

      To the newsletter of 14 December 2021

      Special No 01 2021, Focus: Biodiversity

      Biodiversity in the focus of Eawag research
      “I cannot imagine our life without biodiversity”

      To the special of 23 november 2021

      Newsletter No 05 2021

      Emergencies and humanitarian crises: Making sanitation decisions
      Also: shower water, glacial lakes, LéXPLORE, open science, vocational training

      To the newsletter of 21 september 2021

      Newsletter No 04 2021

      Aquatic life underground - Research with a Citizen Science approach
      Also: test with fish cells, microbial biodiversity, landfills in India

      To the newsletter of 13 July 2021

      Newsletter No 03 2021

      Noble gases used to sniff out the pathways of the Emmental’s groundwater
      Also: biomass production, handwashing station, blue green biodiversity

      To the newsletter of 21 May 2021

      Newsletter No 02 2021

      Interview with Janet Hering on World Water Day: “I find the sound of water to be very calming”
      Also: rare earth elements, climate change, copepods, corona …

      To the newsletter of 22 March 2021

      Newsletter No 01 2021

      Safe to cross: low risk of coronavirus infection from high-touch surfaces
      Also: Autarky, legionella, soldier flies, mercury, sediments

      To the newsletter of 4 February 2021

      Newsletter 2020

      Newsletter No 04 2020

      Research on COVID-19 at Eawag
      Also: environmental DNA, pesticides, natural sewage treatment plants

      To the Newsletter

      Newsletter No 03 2020

      Risks of COVID-19 in wastewater
      Also: microplastics, amphipods, blue-green algae and pesticides

      To the Newsletter

      Newsletter No 02 2020

      Mobile system measures water quality in real time
      Also: arsenic, revitalizations, pandemics and Diclofenac

      To the Newsletter

      Newsletter No 01 2020

      Interview on World Water Day on 22 March 2020
      Also: super wasps, legionella, humpback whales and blue-green biodiversity

      To the Newsletter

      Newsletter 2019

      Newsletter No 04 2019

      December 12, 2019

      Pesticides in sediments cause adverse effects on benthic organisms. This was shown by a monitoring study conducted by the Ecotox Centre and Eawag on five streams in agricultural areas. Crustaceans were particularly affected. Concentrations of several insecticides, including chlorpyrifos and the pyrethroid cypermethrin, exceeded effect thresholds, indicating impaired sediment quality.

      Read more
      December 2, 2019

      Invertebrates on the beds of water bodies are observed closely, for they serve as indicators for the ecological status of running waters. A new Swiss-wide study by the aquatic research institute Eawag shows which species are especially good indicators, and how the monitoring and management of surface waters can be further improved.

      Read more
      October 30, 2019

      What developments do urban water researchers and professionals see as important – or worthy of scepticism? A pioneering horizon scan conducted by Eawag scientists indicates that, for this community, digitalisation is a particular concern – in a positive and negative sense. In this interview, Frank Blumensaat, an environmental engineer at ETH Zurich and Eawag, discusses the opportunities and risks it creates in the urban water field.

      Read more

      Newsletter No 03 2019

      September 10, 2019

      Treating community wastewater takes a lot of energy. Eawag is currently supporting a project that not only presents an alternative to conventional treatment processes but is also designed to enabled increased throughput within a smaller amount of space. Read more

      September 3, 2019

      The energy strategy calls for a further expansion of hydropower. This puts pressure on Swiss water bodies and water landscapes. At today's Eawag Info Day, some 200 experts from practice, research and administration will discuss how the various interests in water can be met in a sustainable manner and where the competition between these interests calls for priorities to be set. The Eawag researchers will demonstrate that it is not only a question of technical solutions, but also of social acceptance, for example when measures in favour of water ecology lead to an increase in the price of electricity.

      Read more
      August 15, 2019

      Swiss groundwater contains numerous pesticide degradation products. This has been discovered by an extensive screening by Eawag and ETH Zurich. The transformation products (metabolites) originate predominantly from pesticides from agriculture.

      Read more

      Newsletter No 02 2019

      June 3, 2019

      Since the last ice age, stickleback have managed to emerge from the sea to colonise many freshwater waterbodies. Genetic analysis by Eawag researchers and colleagues from the University of Bern and the National Institute of Genetics in Shizuoka, Japan, now demonstrate that they achieved this thanks to additional copies of a metabolism gene. Read more

      May 14, 2019

      Cyanobacteria were among the first organisms to produce oxygen, which meant they were a significant milestone in the evolution of plants and animals. Countless species of cyanobacteria inhabit almost all habitats around the world. For her doctorate at Eawag, Marie-Eve Monchamp analysed sediment cores from ten different lakes around the fringes of the Alps, thus gaining an insight into the communities of cyanobacteria living over the past 100 years. Read more

      April 17, 2019

      By systematically collecting samples from Switzerland’s rivers, “Progetto Fiumi” has documented more than forty species of fish. In addition, within the various species, the Eawag research group has found a rich diversity that had not been fully assessed before. The project thus provides a basis for the protection of this genetic and ecological diversity. Read more

      Newsletter No 01 2019

      April 2, 2019

      Two studies by Eawag and the Ecotox Centre have once again shown that surface waters in agricultural catchment areas are heavily contaminated with plant protection products. Concentrations of individual substances persisting for several months pose a risk of chronic toxicity and, for extended periods, exceed the levels at which a risk of acute toxicity exists for aquatic plants and organisms. In most of the samples, 30 or more different active ingredients were detected. Studies of stream biodiversity and bioassays confirmed the threat posed by these mixtures of substances. Read more

      March 19, 2019

      In order to move from one host to another, certain parasites change their behaviour. The more effectively a parasite can manipulate its host, the greater its evolutionary advantage. It therefore passes on its characteristics to its descendants, as a new Eawag study has shown. Read more

      February 28, 2019

      Aquatic organisms are adapted to harsh conditions at high altitudes and are tolerant of a certain level of disturbances. However, according to a study conducted in the canton of Valais, frequent flushing of water intakes leads to a dramatic decline in populations of macroinvertebrates, such as insects or worms. Read more

      Newsletter 2018

      Newsletter No 04 2018

      December 12, 2018

      Antibiotic resistance genes are not completely eliminated by wastewater treatment. While some resistance genes are present in the influent, many others are found in activated sludge bacteria. A recent Eawag study shows that, rather than merely passing through, resistance genes are active and evolve within treatment plants. Read more

      December 3, 2018

      Amphipods in Swiss waters are exposed to insecticides, pharmaceutical residues and other trace substances, and accumulate these in their bodies. However, when water-treatment plants are upgraded, practically no trace substances are found in these organisms according to a new study carried out by Eawag researchers. Read more

      November 26, 2018

      When a population grows quickly and farms intensively, the environment often suffers. This is not only true today, but was also the case as early as Roman times. Evidence of this has been found by Eawag researchers in sediments in Lake Murten. Read more

      Newsletter No 03 2018

      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

      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
      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

      Newsletter No 02 2018

      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

      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

      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

      Newsletter No 01 2018

      March 27, 2018

      Rubber ducks and crocodiles have always been popular bathtime companions. An Eawag study has now revealed the “dark side” of flexible plastic bath toys. Diverse microbial growth is promoted not only by the plastic materials but by bath users themselves.

      Read more
      February 8, 2018

      When a person wearing a bright-orange protective suit and carrying a laptop climbs out of a sewer shaft, it could well be an employee of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Especially if this happens in Fehraltorf. Since 2016, Eawag has been constructing an internationally unique net of sensors that document water circulation in residential areas. Read more

      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

      Newsletter 2017

      Newsletter No 04 2017

      December 11, 2017

      The composition of cyanobacterial communities in peri-alpine lakes has become increasingly similar over the past century. Climate warming and a period of eutrophication have favoured in particular potentially toxic species which can adapt rapidly to environmental changes. These are the findings of an Eawag-led study analysing DNA extracted from sediment cores. Read more

      December 4, 2017

      Inadequate access to safe sanitation in developing and emerging countries is one of the most pressing global challenges in the water sector, according to Eawag Director Janet Hering, who is interviewed in the latest issue of Aqua & Gas.  Read more

      November 21, 2017

      As part of the artists-in-labs programme run by the Zurich University of the Arts, two artists from Saudi Arabia are currently artists-in-residence at Eawag for three months. Zahrah Alghamdi is working in the Aquatic Ecology department and is looking at running waters and their physical properties as well as their emotional and poetical aspects, while Muhannad Shono is a guest of the Environmental Microbiology department, where he is exploring parallels between microorganisms and humans. Read more

      Newsletter No 03 2017

      October 10, 2017

      A study just published by Eawag scientists shows that gold and silver each amounting to around CHF 1.5 million a year are lost via effluents and sludge from wastewater treatment plants in Switzerland. The concentrations measured do not pose risks to the environment – and recycling would not be economically worthwhile. However, the study also produced surprising findings on other trace elements in wastewater, including rare earth metals such as gadolinium and the heavy metal niobium. Read more

      October 3, 2017

      Trout that live in stable ecosystems divide the prey spectrum among themselves and develop into specialists. In streams with instable food supply, however, the trout become generalists. Sticklebacks from different evolutionary lineages alter their environment by their feeding habits. This is deleterious to their descendants except they are hybrids. Understanding the interaction between species and environment is important for the effective protection of biodiversity.  Read more

      July 26, 2017

      The emergence of new technologies requires conditions tailored to specific industrial sectors. Social scientists at Eawag have developed a conceptual framework describing the relevant innovation drivers. This should make it possible to identify factors hindering innovation and to design industry‑specific support programmes.  Read more

      Newsletter No 02 2017

      June 28, 2017

      Flow cytometry has revolutionised the bacteriological assessment of water quality, and with its automation the revolution is progressing even further. Following his successful basic research into this area, a researcher at Eawag has become an entrepreneur. Read more

      June 1, 2017

      Micropollutants enter rivers and streams in effluents discharged from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). As well as having adverse impacts on individual species, these substances appear to alter aquatic ecosystem functions, such as litter decomposition. This was shown by a research project launched by Eawag in view of the planned upgrade of selected Swiss WWTPs to reduce micropollutant loads. The effects of the first upgrades are already evident. 

      Read more
      April 27, 2017

      If drinking water or wastewater containing bromide is treated with ozone to remove micropollutants, bromate – a potentially carcinogenic substance – is formed. Eawag scientists have developed a new process which makes it possible to minimize bromate formation during ozonation. This is achieved by transferring ozone to the water in small doses through the pores of PTFE membranes.  Read more

      Newsletter No 01 2017

      March 29, 2017

      Changing people’s behaviour is no easy matter. Having developed a method that has been shown to promote behaviour change, Hans-Joachim Mosler of Eawag’s Environmental Social Sciences department has now set up a consulting firm – attracting considerable interest among development cooperation professionals in particular.  Read more

      March 9, 2017

      The water footprint indicates how much water is used to produce consumer goods. A study by Eawag scientists shows that there is a need for standardization in assessments of the grey water component. Comparability is impaired, for example, by the use of different water quality standards.  Read more

      February 21, 2017

      As a result of climate change, concentrations of the trace element selenium in soils are likely to decrease. Because the selenium content of crops may also be reduced, the risk of selenium deficiency could be increased in many regions of the world. This was shown by a recent study which used data-mining to model the global distribution of selenium.

      Read more

      Newsletter 2016

      Newsletter No 04 2016

      December 15, 2016

      In the past, Lakes Zurich and Greifen have repeatedly been affected by blooms of potentially toxic cyanobacteria. This was confirmed by an analysis of sedimentary DNA carried out by Eawag scientists. Read more

      November 16, 2016

      With the help of modern sensors and the innovative remote data transfer system LoRaWAN, researchers at Eawag are investigating the relationships between precipitation and the resulting drainage processes. It is hoped that the new technology, otherwise known as the “Internet of Things”, will enable wastewater disposal and sewage systems to be run as efficiently as possible, as well as allowing the quality of wastewater and waterbodies to be monitored. Read more

      November 3, 2016

      Stream and river restoration measures may be showcase projects for conservationists, but – in the absence of systematic monitoring – it is often unclear what benefits they provide for ecosystems. Read more

      Newsletter No 03 2016

      September 16, 2016

      Switzerland’s lakes are not only diverse ecosystems, but also recreation sites, fishing grounds and energy sources. At this year’s Info Day, the tensions between these competing interests were explored. It was concluded that sustainable management calls for an understanding of the complex interactions occurring in lakes – which in turn requires scientific data and appropriate methods of observation.

      Read more
      September 8, 2016

      Biologists at Eawag have described a new amphipod species which is endemic to the Alps. While alpine lakes provide relatively undisturbed habitats for Gammarus alpinus, this species is being displaced by an invasive amphipod in Lake Constance. Read more

      August 17, 2016

      Political actors tend to perceive their opponents as more influential than they really are, and to overestimate the differences between opposing groups. As a result, policy‑making and the search for feasible compromises become more difficult. This phenomenon, as Eawag political scientists have now shown, is apparent even in a consensus-based democracy like Switzerland. Read more

      Newsletter No 02 2016

      April 28, 2016

      In the modular experimental building known as NEST, Eawag and Empa – together with industrial and scientific partners – are investigating new forms of living and working, innovative construction methods and energy-efficient technologies. Read more

      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

      April 6, 2016

      Environmental engineer Christoph Ort is one of the Eawag scientists whose work has been particularly widely covered in the media over the last few years. His research field – drugs in wastewater – is a magnet for journalists. Read more

      Newsletter No 01 2016

      March 7, 2016

      Individual bacterial cells have short memories. But groups of bacteria can develop a collective memory that can increase their tolerance to stress. This has been demonstrated experimentally for the first time in a study by Eawag and ETH Zurich scientists published in PNAS. Read more

      January 28, 2016

      A lake’s sediments are a window onto the past – the various layers deposited over time can provide valuable information on changes in local environmental conditions. Read more

      January 26, 2016

      The outdoor experimental pond facility constructed at Eawag’s Dübendorf site in 2015 is the only one of its kind in Europe. Read more

      Newsletter 2015

      Newsletter No 03 2015

      September 17, 2015

      After alewife migration had been blocked by the damming of rivers in the Northeastern US, not only did new types of alewife emerge in coastal lakes but a distinct form of pickerel evolved which is specialized for alewife predation. Read more

      October 2, 2015

      According to Jerald Schnoor, emerging challenges in the water sector like water shortage or micropollutants call not only for high-quality research but also for interactive collaboration between scientists and decision-makers. Read more

      October 21, 2015

      What is required to facilitate the adoption of new technologies such as potable water reuse? According to a study carried out by environmental social scientists in California, users need to see not only how an innovation benefits them personally, but also that it is compatible the community’s values and can become a routine part of daily life. Read more

      Newsletter No 02 2015

      Certain Swiss cantons have banned the use of fracking for gas extraction. To explore the factors underlying these decisions, social scientists at Eawag have analysed the policy processes involved. Details of this research are to be found in the third article.

      June 23, 2015

      The creation of gravel islands can contribute to the success of river restoration projects, as these structures have positive effects on exchanges between groundwater and surface water. Read more

      June 25, 2015

      Chlorination of water in swimming pools leads to the formation of trichloramine, a potentially harmful compound. Read more

      June 25, 2015

      The use of fracking for gas extraction is widely opposed in Switzerland. Despite the almost complete lack of concrete projects, certain cantons have already imposed bans. Read more

      Newsletter No 01 2015

      March 18, 2015

      With an innovative recycling method, valuable nutrients recovered from urine can be sold as fertilizers. As well as conserving natural resources, this reduces water pollution and makes sanitation systems in developing countries economically more attractive. Read more

      March 18, 2015

      In many regions of Asia, Africa and South America, consumption of groundwater contaminated with arsenic or fluoride causes severe health problems. Read more

      Newsletter 2014

      No. 04 | 11 December 2014

      Eawag researchers are developing a new method for species identification based on eDNA – fragments of genetic material found in all aquatic environments. A description of the method and an explanation of its advantages are given in the first article of this Newsletter.  to the Newsletter

      No. 03 | 1 July 2014

      Environmental social scientists at Eawag have investigated how political decisions are made, taking micropollution as an example. They wanted to identify the major factors in the decision-making process that lead to sustainable and effective solutions. Read more about this subject in the second article in this newsletter.  to the Newsletter

      No. 02 | 29 April 2014

      Switzerland's water infrastructure is beginning to show signs of age. But data on pipe maintenance and replacement is often inadequate, and future requirements are uncertain. Researchers at Eawag have been investigating how, under these conditions, the renewal of water supply and sewer networks can best be planned. More information on this project and other news on the latest water research can be found in this issue of our Newsletter.   to the Newsletter

      No. 01 | 22 January 2014

      Surprisingly little is known about the behaviour and fate of pesticides in the environment – whether and how they are broken down, and what transformation products arise in the process. In this issue of our Newsletter, you can find out where the challenges lie and how Eawag researchers are addressing them.   to the Newsletter

      Newsletter 2013

      No. 02 | 15 October 2013

      Tests involving adult fish are still routinely performed in research and in the chemical industry. Environmental toxicologists at Eawag are therefore developing alternative methods for assessing the toxicity of chemicals: test systems based on cell lines and fish embryos deliver reliable results and are ethically less problematic. In this issue of our Newsletter, you can read about how these tests work – as well as other news on Eawag's research activities.   to the Newsletter

      No. 01 | 8 June 2013

      We are pleased to attach the first issue of the Eawag Newsletter. From now on, instead of a printed copy of Eawag News, you will receive regular news and updates on Eawag's water research by e‑mail. But despite the new format, the content is essentially unchanged – scientific articles on topics of practical relevance written by researchers or the editorial team. In this issue, for example, you can discover how river connectivity for fish is improved when artificial barriers are replaced by block ramps, or how evolutionary ecology can contribute to environmental management.  to the Newsletter

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