About the MSP

What is the MSP:

The MSP (Modular Stepwise Procedure) is a set of methods for surveying and assessing the status of water bodies. It is a collaboration between the federal government, cantons, Eawag and the VSA. Launched in 1998, methods are now available for the most important aspects of assessing the status of watercourses in accordance with water protection legislation. In addition to these assessment methods for watercourses, it also includes the first methods for assessing the status of lakes, as well as methods for identifying the causes of deficits and for monitoring the effectiveness of measures. 

Aims of the MSP:

The aims of the MSP are:

1. To identify deficits in accordance with Appendix 1 and 2 of the Waters Protection Ordinance (WPO)

2. To identify the causes of the deficits and the most efficient measures 

3. To monitor the impact of the implemented measures

Picture: Pascal Vonlanthen

Investigation levels:

Originally, three levels, hence the name Modular Stepwise Procedure, were planned in the MSP with different investigation depths. It was assumed that the depth would be low regional scale level investigations (Level I) and medium or high depth for system scale (Level II) or reach scale (Level III) investigations.

As the division into levels was sometimes difficult in practice, no distinction will be made in future between level III (reach scale based) and level II (system scale base) and the levels will be interpreted as follows:

  • Level I – Region scale level. In the sense of a general, overview-based status description and assessment in accordance with WPO Appendices 1 and 2. At this level, standardised methods are now available for most parameters of river assessment.
  • Level II – System scale level. Level II comprises standardised methods for analysing causes of the deficits and monitoring success (e.g. effectiveness of renaturation measures). Level I methods can also be used as required. Often different indicators such as macrophytes and fish are combined.

The MSP concept documents for rivers and lakes are available in German and French and can be found on the German and French web pages.