Focus: Dynamics of water

New tools, new opportunities

Technologies and tools for monitoring surface waters are developing constantly and rapidly. They make it possible to understand the dynamics of water systems and to find solutions for the conservation of water resources – one of the major challenges society faces. In this newsletter we provide an overview of recently developed methods as well as their possibilities and limitations. The articles are based on the lectures presented by Eawag researchers and external experts at the Eawag Info Day 2022 on 15 September.

«A holistic view of the catchment area is needed»

In order to understand water bodies as complex and dynamic environmental systems and to develop sustainable solutions to problems, data from various disciplines is needed, explains Damien Bouffard, Head of the Aquatic Physics Group at Eawag, in an interview. Data from a wide range of experts can be exchanged and used via the “Datalakes” platform.

Foto: Andri Bryner

Foto: Peter Penicka

LéXPLORE – the floating research station
A globally unique research facility has been floating on Lake Geneva since 2019. With automatic measuring sensors and multidisciplinary collaboration, it will significantly improve our understanding of lakes.
Read more

Video CWIS

Real-time monitoring of micropollutants
The results surprised even the researchers. In a small stream – which, like many others, flows through fields and orchards – pesticide concentrations were measured in early summer 2019 that exceeded the permissible maximum by up to 30 times. This has been made visible by “MS2field”, a mass spectrometer brought into the field. Read more

Foto: Raoul Schaffner

Optimising wastewater management and protecting water bodies
Natural waters are regularly polluted by the discharge of wastewater from combined sewage systems. With the help of a “digital twin”, the management of wastewater systems can be improved and water pollution decisively reduced. Read more

Foto: Aldo Todaro

«I have never worked on such a sought-after topic before»
Tamar Kohn has been a professor at the EPFL since 2007. She heads the Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry (LCE) there and studies how viral pathogens behave in the environment. In the following, she provides insights into the Covid monitoring in wastewater that she co-initiated. Read more

Environmental monitoring from space
Since 2014, the European Copernicus Programme has been using satellites to collect data for environmental monitoring that is freely available for research. From this, Eawag obtains water quality indicators such as chlorophyll-a concentrations for the thirty largest Swiss lakes and develops approaches to integrate these indicators into conventional environmental monitoring. Read more

Foto: Peter Penicka

Fish on chips, or how Kristin Schirmer saves animal lives
Fish on chips – what sounds like the national dish of the British is actually the result of an extraordinary career as a researcher that was originally planned quite differently. Read more

Video CWIS

Monitoring pollutants in sediments
A new strategy developed by the Ecotox Centre shows how sediment quality can be assessed uniformly in Switzerland and thus lays the foundation for nationwide monitoring. The process is currently being tested in the canton of Bern. Read more

Foto: Aldo Todaro

Information on flooding via social media
Thanks to an automatic image processing method that was developed by Eawag together with photrack AG and the ETH Zurich, mobile phone videos posted on the Internet can be used as an important source of data during a flood. Rescue forces can thus take highly targeted protection measures or warn the population at an early stage. Read more

Innovative river management with the aid of drones
Drones have cut the cost of aerial photography so significantly that this technology is now becoming attractive for monitoring rivers. Provided that the analyses are conducted correctly, these aircraft can be employed to quantify river dynamics and model outflows and habitats. The following examples showcase the potential of the new technology. Read more

Impressions of the Eawag Info Day 2022
Around 140 participants from public administration, private engineering firms and research took advantage of the Eawag Info Day in Lausanne to learn about and exchange information on new possibilities for collecting and using water data – in the lectures and discussions in the hall, during the breaks and at the stands of a small exhibition in the foyer. Our video provides an impression of the Info Day 2022. You can find more information in our review.

The new Info Day magazine
All articles from this newsletter can also be found in the attractive and reader-friendly Info Day magazine (in German and French), which was published for the first time this year.

Browse through the magazine online
in German or French

Download the magazine as a PDF
in German or French

Stay tuned: Eawag Info Day 2023 on “SDGs”
The next Eawag Info Day in September 2023 will be dedicated to the topic of “Sustainable Development Goals”. Interested? Then send us an email to, so that we can send you the programme flyer as soon as it is published.

Cover picture: View of the mouth of the River Rhône into Lake Geneva. Infra-red and hyperspectral cameras on the aircraft measure the water temperature and quality as well as other data. (Photo: Damien Bouffard, Eawag)

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