Personal tools

next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Impacts and pressures / Impacts and pressures (WFD 001) - Assessment DRAFT created Apr 2013

Impacts and pressures (WFD 001) - Assessment DRAFT created Apr 2013

This item is open for comments. See the comments section below

Topics: ,

Generic metadata

Topics:

Water Water (Primary topic)

Tags:
transitional water | lakes | rivers | coastal water | water framework directive | water pollution
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • WFD 001
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2004-2009
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Which are the major pressures and impacts affecting European waters?

Key messages

  • The pressures reported to affect most surface water bodies are pollution from diffuse sources causing nutrient enrichment, and hydromorphological pressures causing altered habitats.
  • Lakes are generally least affected by pressures and their impacts. Pollution from diffuse sources is reported for a larger proportion of water bodies than pollution from point sources for all water categories except transitional waters. The highest proportion of water bodies affected by hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats impact is found for rivers. 

Proportion of total number of classified water bodies with identified significant pressures (left column) and impacts (right column), for rivers, lakes, coastal waters, and transitional waters

Note: The percentage is calculated against the total number of classified surface water bodies in Member States reporting the specific pressure or impact type (or any pressure or impact for the blue bars). The number of Member States included is indicated in brackets. See the indicator specification for more details.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

No pressures/impacts: Half of the lake water bodies (48%) have no significant pressures reported followed by 42% of the coastal water bodies with no pressures identified. Only one third of the river water bodies and one fifth of the transitional water bodies have no pressures reported. A similar difference between water categories is found for significant impacts.

Pollution pressures: Pollution pressures comprise all emissions to surface waters from point and diffuse sources, including nutrients, organic matter, acidifying substances and hazardous substances from local, regional or long-range trans-boundary pollution sources.

30% to 50% of the surface water bodies are affected by pollution pressures, with diffuse sources being the most important pollutant pressure. More than 40% of the river and coastal water bodies are affected by diffuse sources; whilst 20-25% of them are subject to point source pollution. Both point (46%) and diffuse sources (34%) affect many transitional waters. A lower proportion of lake water bodies are reported to be affected by pollution, reflecting the disproportionately large number of lakes reported from Sweden and Finland.

Impacts related to pollution pressures: Nutrient enrichment causing eutrophication is the most important impact of the pollution pressures. Coastal waters have the highest proportion of water bodies suffering from nutrient enrichment (42%), while lakes are least affected, with less than 20% reported to suffer from nutrient enrichment. Organic enrichment is reported to affect 10-15% of rivers, lakes and coastal water bodies, and is more important in transitional waters, where the proportion of affected water bodies is close to 30%. The latter is consistent with the high proportion of transitional water bodies exposed to point source pollution.

Acidification from long-range transported diffuse pollution affects 10% of river water bodies and 17% of lake water bodies in the few (7-10) Member States reporting this impact. Contamination by priority substances and contaminated sediments affect less than 20% of all classified water bodies, except in Sweden where nearly all surface waters have been reported affected by mercury pollution (see the indicator specification).

Hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats impact: Hydromorphological pressures comprise all physical alterations of water bodies modifying their shores, riparian/littoral zones, water level and flow. Examples of such pressures are damming, embankment, channelization and non-natural water level fluctuations.

Hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats are reported for a large proportion of classified water bodies, particularly in rivers (more than 40%) and transitional waters (40%). In lakes aproximately one third of the classified water bodies are reported to be exposed to hydromorpological pressures and 20% are reported to have altered habitats. A large part of the water bodies reported with these pressures and impacts are heavily modified or artificial. In coastal waters, hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats are reported for a low proportion of classified water bodies (10%). The proportions of water bodies exposed to hydromorphological pressures are almost the same as those having altered habitats. 

Water abstraction affects about 8% of the river water bodies and 4% of the lake water bodies. Water abstractions may significantly affect the flow regime and water level fluctuations, which are major determinants of river and lake ecosystem function and services.  

Specific policy question: To which extent are waters in different parts of Europe affected by the main pressures?

Proportion of classified water bodies in different RBDs affected by pollution pressures, for rivers and lakes (left panel) and for coastal and transitional waters (right panel)

Note: The percentage is based on total number of classified water bodies. See the indicator specification for more details.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Proportion of classified water bodies in different RBDs affected by hydromorphological pressures, for rivers and lakes (left panel) and for coastal and transitional waters (right panel)

Note: The percentage is based on total number of classified water bodies. See the indicator specification for more details.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Specific assessment

Pollution pressures (Fig. 1 and 2)

A large proportion of the water bodies in particular in the regions with intensively agriculture and high population density are affected by pollution pressures. Regulations and measures have significantly reduced point source pollution in recent decades. Nevertheless, discharges from waste water treatment plants and industries and the overflow of wastewater from sewage systems still cause pollution. Despite some progress in reducing agricultural inputs of pollutants, the diffuse pollution from agriculture is still a significant pressure. Thus increased reduction of diffuse pollution is needed to achieve good water quality and ecological status. The RBDs and Member states with a high proportion of water bodies affected by diffuse pollution, are in particular found in north western Europe, comparable to the regions with high fertiliser input and high river nitrate concentration.

Pollution pressures in rivers and lakes (Fig 2., left)

The highest pollution pressures in river and lake water bodies are reported in River Basin Districts in the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders), as well as in southern Italy, south-eastern England, and smaller parts of northern Germany, where more than 90% of the water bodies are exposed to pollution pressures. Other problem areas are in the rest of Germany (except the two RBDs in the southeastern and southwestern part), the Czech Republic, Southern England, Northern France, most of Ireland, southern Portugal, as well as several single RBDs in other Member States, where 70-90% of freshwater bodies are reported to be exposed to pollution pressures.  

Pollution pressures in transitional and coastal waters (Fig 2., right)

For coastal and transitional waters, the worst areas where more than 90% of water bodies are reported to be exposed to pollution pressures are in the Baltic region (southern Finland, south-eastern Sweden and north-eastern Germany), in the Greater North Sea region (south-western Sweden, north-western Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders)), southern Portugal, as well as the Romanian part of the Black Sea region. In the Bulgarian part of the Black Sea 70-90% of their coastal and transitional water bodies are reported to be exposed to pollution pressures. Also along the coast of Brittany in France, eastern Ireland both sides of northern Italy, as well as south-western Portugal, more than 70% of classified water bodies are reported to be exposed to pollution pressures.

The lowest proportion of coastal and transitional water bodies exposed to pollution pressures are reported from the north-eastern coast of Poland, as well as around the Greek islands, where more than 90% of the coastal and transitional water bodies are reported to be without significant pollution pressures. 

Hydromorphological pressures (Fig. 1 and 3)

The main challenge in managing water flows and water levels is to meet the reasonable needs of the different water users, while leaving enough water in the environment to conserve river, lake and wetland habitats and species.

Numerous human structures and activities have resulted in vast hydromorphological modifications which have greatly impacted the ecological function of European surface waters. In the River Basin Management Plans, the majority of EU Member States indicate that pressures related to urban development, flood defence, power generation including hydropower, inland water navigation and straightening and land drainage for agriculture are important pressures affecting the hydro-morphological status of water bodies.

Hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats are the most commonly occurring pressure and impact in rivers, while in lakes and transitional waters these pressures and impacts are roughly as common as the pollution pressures and impacts. However, hydromorphological pressures and altered habitats are sometimes affecting only a minor part of a water body (for example, physical shore-line alterations in lakes or barriers in rivers), and may thus have less serious ecological consequences than pollution pressures, which often deteriorate the water quality of the whole water body.  

Hydromorphological pressures in rivers and lakes (Fig 3., left)

The hydromorphological pressures in rivers and lakes are reported to be most severe in RBDs in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Hungary and south-east England, and less severe in RBDs in Finland, the Baltic countries, Romania, as well as in many RBDs in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece,  Bulgaria  and Cyprus. 

Hydromorphological pressures in transitional and coastal waters (Fig 3., right)

In coastal and transitional waters the hydromorphological pressure is considerably less than in freshwater bodies, and is mainly a problem along the Greater North Sea coast of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the southern coast of Italy. 

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Peter Kristensen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2012 1.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100