In Switzerland, various local, cantonal and federal authorities are responsible for water management. This leads to inefficiencies and extra costs. A project of the National Research Programme "Sustainable Water Management" (NRP 61) now shows that sustainability and efficiency can be improved if the various water management sectors are integrated with moderation.
In our daily lives, we rely on water in many ways. The challenges which have to be met by politics and society are similarly varied: authorities on all levels are involved in managing the various water sectors, which include drinking water supply, wastewater management, flood prevention measures and the protection of aquatic life. Administrative obstacles and conflicting views often lead to friction and hamper an efficient management of water.Model in the canton of Neuchâtel
The advantages of an integrated approach to water management are exemplified in the project "MultiRuz" in the Val-de-Ruz between Neuchâtel and La-Chaux-de-Fonds. A few years ago, the communities in the valley suffered from lack of water and poor water quality. The responsibilities relating to water were distributed across 22 bodies. In early 2011, a large proportion of the tasks was transferred to a new authority - a pioneering step for Switzerland. This solved the problems related to water quality and led to savings of around CHF 3 million per year.Centralised solution not feasible
The catchment area of Lake Greifen (where the canton of Zurich is implementing a number of measures to achieve a more sustainable management of water) requires different measures from the Val-de-Ruz or the Valais (where the third Rhone correction is due in the next few years). "Integration is not an end in itself," says Truffer. "The aim is to achieve the targets defined for a catchment area as efficiently and inexpensively as possible." It is therefore important to balance the advantages and possible savings with the growing coordination effort of the integration.
In the context of the "International Year of Water Cooperation", the researchers are presenting their results at the conference "Water overcomes boundaries - examples and opportunities in Switzerland", which takes place in Berne on 22 March 2013.On this subject
Tools for practice, elaborated by the project “Towards integrative water governance”, can be found on the website of "Wasser-Agenda 21": http://www.wa21.ch/index.php?page=469
Conference "Water overcomes boundaries - examples and opportunities in Switzerland": http://www.wa21.ch/index.php?page=481National Research Programme "Sustainable Water Management" (NRP 61)
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