Newsletter

On this page you will find professional articles on practice-oriented subjects as well as current reports and messages from the Eawag water research. If you want to receive news directly via e-mail, you can also subscribe to our newsletter.

Newsletter No 02 2018

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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

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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

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      Newsletter 2017

      Newsletter No 04 2017

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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.

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      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

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      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