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Switzerland is a ‘wastewater treatment pioneer’

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Bern’s wastewater treatment plant, ARA Bern, is one of the most technologically advanced in Europe. Director Beat Ammann explains why Switzerland is at the forefront of wastewater management.                         

Around 280,000 households and businesses from 13 communes are located within the catchment area of ARA Bernexternal link, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The plant deals with about 90 million litres of wastewater every day. 

ARA Bern is considered one of the most advanced facilities in Europe. It cleans wastewater but also produces biogas from sewage sludge and feeds it into Energie Wasser Bern’s natural gas network. The gas is used by public transport buses in the capital. 

The plant has an unusual organisational structure as a limited company. Most other sewage treatment plants in Switzerland belong to cities or are organised by local associations, which can have heavier decision-making procedures. 

In the future, ARA Bern will be used to remove micropollutants from wastewater. An additional cleaning process is set to be completed by 2022 at a cost of CHF23 million ($23 million).