Residents of Swiss village successfully sue after river ‘flows too loudly’

A court has ruled in the favour of residents of a small Swiss village who sued local authorities after a river flowed too loudly.

Shhh, it's Sunday! An image of a Swiss river that may or may not be flowing too loudly. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash
Shhh, it's Sunday! An image of a Swiss river that may or may not be flowing too loudly. Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

We can’t say with certainty that this only happens in Switzerland, but we suspect this is so.

Residents of a district of Saint Légier in the canton of Vaud complained that a stream in their neighbourhood flows too loudly, demanding that local authorities install soundproofing.

The river, which is primarily used by farmers for irrigation, was partially re-routed in 2020. 

READ MORE: The 12 strange laws in Switzerland you need to know

Authorities denied the request, saying that “the noise emitted by the stream… does not constitute an inadmissible attack on the tranquility of local residents”.

The complainants then took their cause to the district court, demanding that acoustic assessments be made to measure the stream’s noise level, countering the argument that their tranquility is not disturbed. 

Their arguments were heard loud and clear, with the court finding in their favour. 

The court said officials should either bury the stream, make it narrower, or install a noise barrier.

All this may sound bizarre, except that this is hardly the first time a group of residents creates ruckus about ambient noise.

Other instances include people complaining about loud church bells, public clocks chiming every 15 minutes, and cow bells.

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Swiss restaurant fines customers who don’t finish food

A restaurant in the Swiss canton of Aargau has started fining people for not finishing their food, although the motive isn't purely profiteering.

Swiss restaurant fines customers who don't finish food

“Casanova” Indian restaurant in the town of Baden, Aargau, charges a ‘fine’ of five francs — in addition to the bill — to customers who leave food on their plate.

The reason for doing so however is not a typical example of Swiss profiteering – and only applies to those who choose the all-you-can-eat buffet option. 

The owner, Salman Ghauri, grew up in India where a large part of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, said he wanted to remind people how good they have it.

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

“Food is precious in India, we don’t throw it away”, Ghauri told Swiss media, encouraging the Swiss to avoid food waste. 

In his restaurant, he serves an all-you-can-eat buffet for 20 francs, but some people pile up more food onto their plates than they can consume, and uneaten food ends up in trash.

This is why Ghauri decided charge a ‘penalty’ of anyone who doesn’t finish the food — a concept he says most of his customers support.

Ghauri, who has lived in Switzerland for 20 years, said the fine might encourage people to think a little more about what they put on their plate. 

“Some people also leave their plate half full and go back to the buffet to try another dish.”

Ghauri said that while the Swiss learn as children to eat what is served on their plates “as adults we tend to leave that aside”. 

“I find our concept good and I fully support it”.