Significant differences can be observed in the degree of success with which the eight problem areas of classical environmental policy have been dealt over the past 25 years. Least progress has been achieved in the areas of noise, nature and landscape, whereas the most significant improvements can be observed in the areas of waste and the prevention of major incidents. The levels of success attained in the other four environmental policy problem areas (water, air, soil and substances) lie between these two extremes. The situation in the individual areas can be summarised as follows1:
  • With over 95% of households and industries connected to central sewage treatment plants, Switzerland should be at the top in the European and, indeed, world-wide league table for water protection. However, approximately 30% of these treatment plants are currently in need of upgrading; the fourth treatment stage which is required for phosphate precipitation has only been implemented in 25 of approximately 1,000 plants. A significant improvement has been observed in the quality of surface waters, in particular with respect to the problems of organic pollution, over recent years. However, trends show that new pollutants are on the increase. Moreover, the ground water which provides 80% of Switzerland's drinking water is under threat from increasing levels of nitrates, chlorides and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Definitive ground water protection zones have been established at planning level for only 50% of the ground water sources. The level of pressure exerted by the general public on the authorities in the area of water protection policy can still be described as high. Systematic efforts for the revitalisation of streams and rivers and the redevelopment of dried-up river beds (behind reserviors in mountain areas) have only recently been initiated.


Environmental Policy Water Protection Landscape Protection Waste Policy Noise Protection 
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© United Nations University 1997

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  • Peter Knoepfel

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