Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology

Logo of the Eawag

The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag, German acronym for Eidgenössische Anstalt für Wasserversorgung, Abwasserreinigung und Gewässerschutz)[1] is a Swiss water research institute and an internationally networked institution. As part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain, it is an institution of the Swiss Confederation.

After its foundation in 1936 it concentrated on wastewater treatment and drinking water supplies. From these beginnings it has expanded into a multidiciplinary research institute with a focus on three primary research areas: water as a foundation of health and well-being, water as an essential factor in the functioning of our ecological systems, and strategies for the mitigation of water use conflicts. Nowadays, with a staff of over 500 employees, Eawag is actively engaged in research, teaching and consulting in all areas pertaining to water. The Eawag is based in Dübendorf near Zurich and Kastanienbaum near Lucerne. Eawag's overall aim is to ensure the sustainable use of water resources and infrastructure and to harmonize the ecological, economic and social interests associated with bodies of water. In doing so, the Eawag plays an important role in bridging research and practice.

Eawag shares the campus at Dübendorf near Zurich with Empa
Eawag Dübendorf, Forum Chriesbach
Eawag Kastanienbaum


The Eawag was founded in 1936 as an information centre of the ETH Zurich for wastewater treatment and drinking water supplies. The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) grew out of this original information centre and increasingly devoted its energies to developing integrated approaches to water management and protection. The Eawag has left its mark on recent Swiss water management and protection history by providing the foundations necessary for those achievements. In 1970, the Eawag became an annex institution of ETH Zurich, before becoming an independent water research institute within the ETH domain in 1993. In 1968 the International Reference Centre for Waste Disposal IRCWD of the WHO was founded, out of which the current Department for Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (Sandec) emerged. In 2004 the Fishing Information Centre FIBER, in 2008 the Water Agenda 21 and the Ecotox Centre, and in 2010 the centres of excellence CEEB and CCDW were founded. The headquarters of the Eawag is located in Dübendorf near Zurich, where in 2007 the building Forum Chriesbach, the winner of numerous environmental awards, was built. Since 1960, the Eawag has been operating a research laboratory in Kastanienbaum near Lucerne. The research institute of that earlier period is today an internationally oriented water research institute which unites the efforts of research, teaching and consulting as well as a combination of natural, engineering and social sciences.

Historical overview

1936: Founding of the Information Centre of the ETH for Wastewater Treatment and Drinking Water Supplies

1946: The information centre is transformed into an ETH associated institute with the name "EAWAG" (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology).

1960: Takeover of the hydrobiological laboratory in Kastanienbaum.

1968: Formation of the International Reference Centre for Waste Disposal of the WHO, out of which the current Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (Sandec) emerged.

1970: EAWAG becomes an annex institute of the ETH Zurich and moves to Dübendorf.

1993: EAWAG becomes an independent water research institute within the ETH domain.

2004: Founding of the Fishing Information Centre at the EAWAG.

2005: The institute′s was changed from EAWAG to Eawag, which came together with a redesigned logo.[3]

2006: Construction of Forum Chriesbach in Dübendorf.[4]

2008: Founding of Water Agenda 21 and the Ecotoxicology Centre.

2010: Founding of the two centres of excellence CEEB (Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Biogeochemistry) and CCDW (Competence Centre for Drinking Water)

Eawag Directors

Term Director
1952-1970 Prof. Dr. Otto Jaag[5]
1970-1992 Prof. Dr. Werner Stumm
1992-2004 Prof. Dr. Alexander J.B. Zehnder
2004-2007 Dipl. Ing. Ulrich Bundi (ad interim)
Since 2007 Prof. Dr. Janet Hering


As a water research institute Eawag has three major focus areas:

Safe drinking water supply and waste-water disposal are essential to maintain human welfare. Eawag research projects aim to develop optimum approaches and strategies to meet future threats caused by increasing contamination, population growth, and climate change.

The increasing pressure of civilisation has a negative influence on the water environment and ecosystems. Developing strategies and measures to both strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of ecosystems and to maintain a sustainable provision of ecosystem services is another focus of Eawag research.

Water use conflicts arise when direct human needs for water and the prevention of negative impacts on ecosystems have to be accommodated at the same time. Eawag research projects develop integrated approaches and put specific emphasis on strategies to meet energy concerns in the context of trade-offs and competing demands.

The Eawag directs and participates in interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary projects in order to combine pure research with concrete problem-solving in practice. Together with external partners and various Eawag departments, research initiatives emerge which further the pursuit of projects from holistic perspectives.

The Eawag has twelve research departments, where research is conducted by natural and social scientists and engineers. This combination permits a wide range of water research.

Research departments:


The Eawag supports universities in educating undergraduate and doctoral candidates in the natural, engineering and social sciences. Numerous master’s students and doctoral candidates from within the country and from abroad are supervised and guided in projects pertaining to water research every year. In addition, approximately 26 apprentices are trained in laboratory, commercial or IT-related areas. Furthermore, the Eawag offers specialists in water resources management, administration and science regular courses in further education (PEAK – practice oriented Eawag courses). The courses are based on current research work and experience and help to promote communication exchanges of knowledge and experience between research and practice. In the area of further education, six research scholarships are granted to undergraduate and doctoral candidates from developing countries each year within the framework of the Partnership Program for Developing Countries (EPP).


By promoting consulting as well as knowledge and technology transfer, research findings are implemented in practice. The Eawag carries out various advisory mandates both inland and abroad including, for example, for the Swiss Confederation, Cantons and NGOs. Eawag specialists sit as experts in numerous national and international boards and committees. The Eawag aquatic research institute is, moreover, home to various specialist advisory centres:


Eawag researchers have received national and international awards for their achievements. The most important awards include:

In 1980 the «Otto-Jaag-Gewässerschutz-Preis» fund was set up in order to honor dissertations and master’s theses at the ETH Zurich in the area of water protection and hydrology. Numerous young Eawag researchers have been recipients of this award since then.

Notes and references


See also

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/9/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.