Strategies in conflicts over water

Water is vital for us humans, but also for animals and plants. It serves as drinking water. It is essential for food and energy production. At the same time, water and bodies of water are habitats for plants and animals as well as recreational areas for humans. The numerous interests, needs and demands can lead to conflicts of use. Eawag develops strategies and methods to support the various stakeholders in their decision-making.

Switzerland is in the fortunate position of having abundant water resources and the technical capacity to manage temporary or local shortages.  In many other places this is not the case. Surface- and groundwater may be too heavily polluted, or there may be too little water available to meet all the demands placed on it. Even in Switzerland, the use of water for hydropower often has severe ecological consequences.  Eawag’s research seeks to identify these conflicts, find ways to overcome them if possible and manage trade-offs when necessary.  Cooperative planning amongst the stakeholders is promoted as a means to gain support from the majority of people in a community for solutions and enable their successful implementation.