The new warning system should show several weeks in advance if a critical situation is imminent. In this way, those affected, such as farmers or drinking water suppliers, can take appropriate measures and avoid damage. Today it is often too late to initiate measures, writes the Federal Council.
Economic and environmental security
For example, it is about planning the irrigation of agricultural crops, about planning alternatives to shipping on the Rhine or about bringing fish into rivers or streams with more water as a precaution. According to the Federal Council, various economic sectors and the environment will benefit from the information and forecasts as well as the warnings of drought.
The Federal Council commissioned the three responsible Federal Offices for the Environment, Meteorology and Climatology as well as State Topography to set up the new system over the next two years. From 2025, the information should be available to the public. According to the state government, the financial means required for construction amount to 4.75 million Swiss francs.
Since 2014, the federal government has been publishing up-to-date risk information on thunderstorms, rain, snowfall, avalanches, forest fires, wind, frost, icy roads, heat, earthquakes and floods. According to the Federal Council, the early detection system for drought should close a gap.
Obligations of the cantons
The state government also wants to oblige the cantons to report in the event of a drought. In the future, the cantons should also inform the federal government how many exemptions they have granted to agriculture if the minimum residual water levels in water bodies are not reached in an emergency. These changes are made by adapting the Water Protection Ordinance.
The government is also recommending that the cantons measure current water consumption more comprehensively. Specifically, the cantons would have to determine how much water is still available for use in rivers, lakes and groundwater in a region during a dry summer phase and how much water households, industry and agriculture need at the same time.