Water scarcity: What strategies do Upper Valais mountain communities?
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More than 30 community representatives recently addressed the resource of water, including the question: Is water scarcity becoming the new reality in Valais?
In Upper Valais, goodquality tap water is something commonplace. But for how much longer? What is the status of the local water supply and is it guaranteed in the Upper Valais in the long term? These and other questions concerning the topic of "water as a resource" and the associated opportunities and challenges were discussed by more than 30 community representatives at this year's policy aperitif of the Network of Upper Valais Mountain Communities (NOB) on Thursday in Bürchen. According to the press release, Rolf Weingartner, professor emeritus of hydrology at the University of Bern, provided a sound insight into the topic. Weingartner presented several theses which, in his opinion, are central to the handling of water as a resource.
The NOB also states that it assumes that the available water quantities will still be sufficient overall in 2050. However, seasonal water shortages could occur in individual areas.According to Weingartner, the effects of socioeconomic change will be more decisive for the water situation in the middle of the century than climate change.
With the NOB, 41 communities want to better represent their interests and promote exchange among themselves.
According to Weingartner, the water problems are primarily a management problem at the regional level. Good planning is needed. To this end, the data basis and transparency must be improved. Evelyn Zenklusen Mutter, project manager at the Upper Valais Regional and Economic Center (RWO), supplemented Rolf Weingartner's remarks with current facts.
She provided a first interim status of the preliminary project "Water Strategy Upper Valais". Zenklusen Mutter based her presentation on a survey conducted in the fall among the Upper Valais communities, in which a total of 47 of 63 communities had participated. These communities had indicated the areas of drinking water, water for agriculture, tourism and industry, and protection against natural hazards as the greatest challenges. More than half of the communities surveyed already have their own water strategy, Zenklusen Mutter is quoted as saying.
In 76 percent of cases, there is also cooperation between municipalities in the area of water. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by water expert Klaus Lanz, in which Rolf Weingartner was joined by Urban Paris, civil engineer, Peter Bähler, mayor of Fieschertal, and Jürgen Brigger, mayor of Staldenried. This had shown the necessity for comprehensive and integrated water projects. The focus was on a sensible combination of the three aspects "protecting water", "using water" and "protecting oneself from water". (pan)
Walliser Bote published at 06.02.2023