Lesson from Lake Geneva

What comes to your mind when you think of Switzerland? The clear, clean air carried from the Alps and unpolluted nature come to mind.

In fact, Switzerland has many mountains, valleys, and clear lakes that rise high in the sky. Switzerland is also a country of watches, but it is also a country of mountains and lakes. Among them, Lake Geneva in Switzerland is the widest lake in Western Europe. Lake Geneva is a river that flows through the Alps, Geneva, and France as the origin of the Rhone glacier. It is currently the cleanest lake loved by Swiss people.

It is now a very clear Lake Geneva, but more than 50 years ago, the lake was also severely polluted. Just as our Cheonggyecheon Stream and Hangang River overcame environmental pollution and were reborn as new water quality, Lake Geneva went through a similar process.

In the early 1950s, many European countries, including Switzerland, tried to rebuild the economy after World War II, and as a result, agriculture and industry developed actively. The problem is that in the process, various wastewater was discharged from factories and homes and flowed into Lake Geneva. Eventually, in the late 1950s, Lake Geneva turned into a lake of death where creatures could no longer live.

The biggest factor that made Lake Geneva a lake of death was the synthetic detergent used at home. At that time, synthetic detergents used petroleum or coal as raw materials. Synthetic detergents are economical and have a fatal disadvantage in that they are excellent in cleaning, but do not decompose easily in water. In addition, it contained a large amount of phosphorus that causes denitrification.

The synthetic detergent problem was not limited to Switzerland. Europe was troubled by synthetic detergents. During this period, synthetic detergents also contaminated rivers and tap water in the UK and Germany. It was only then that European countries began to think about the dangers of synthetic detergents.

In 1962, Switzerland and France stepped up to save Geneva. The two countries have built about 120 wastewater treatment plants near Lake Geneva in 20 years to remove most of the phosphorus. As a result, Lake Geneva was revived as a beautiful lake from the late 1970s.

Meanwhile, after this incident, countries have accelerated the development of new taxes. As a result, a soft detergent that has better cleaning power than the existing synthetic detergent but decomposes quickly in water has been developed. European countries have pushed for policies to soften synthetic detergents and tried to prevent water pollution.

However, the softening of detergent alone cannot completely solve the water pollution problem. Environmental experts say that the development of new detergents is also important, but it is more important to reduce the amount of detergent used.

We know well that once saving polluted nature takes a lot of money and effort. It is more important to preserve and keep it clean from the beginning than to fix the barn after losing the cow.


Categories: Society