As the reservoir of Europe, Switzerland is gifted with a valuable resource: water. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) monitors the quantity and quality of surface water and groundwater through a network of gauging stations. This ensures that changes can be detected at an early stage and appropriate measures taken. The cantonal agencies also operate monitoring networks and make their data available.
Monitoring Swiss Waterbodies
Thanks to its mountainous terrain and the associated high-rainfall catchments, Switzerland is often referred to as 'the reservoir of Europe'. This comes with a responsibility to record, measure and analyse Switzerland's water resources and quality so as to use and protect this as effectively as possible.
Switzerland's monitoring networks and observation programmes are well distributed spatially and have a high temporal resolution. They therefore provide a good basis for water management, waterbody protection and flood protection and for assessing the impacts of climate change on Swiss waterbodies.
The FOEN ensures that Switzerland has the hydrological information it needs for the sustainable use and management of its water resources. The Hydrology Division operates the national surface water and groundwater monitoring networks, which measure water quantity and quality (i.e. chemical and physical properties). It analyses the status and development of water resources and informs the general public of the results in the form of facts and figures. It also prepares hydrological forecasts and issues flood alerts.
Numerous cantonal agencies also operate hydrological monitoring networks and publish their current data and information on internet portals:
FOEN: Topic Water - Specialist services
Reports and further links
FOEN: Hydrological events: online dossiers on flood and low water events/drought (in German and French)
FOEN publication 'Waterbodies in Switzerland: State and measures' (2022) (in German and French)
NCCS: Hydrological scenarios (Hydro-CH2018): Impacts of climate change on Swiss waters
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF): Snow and avalanche situation in Switzerland
Eawag: 'Datalakes': Data and maps on Swiss lakes