Personal tools

Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Twitter icon Twitter
Facebook icon Facebook
YouTube icon YouTube channel
RSS logo RSS Feeds
More

Write to us Write to us

For the public:


For media and journalists:

Contact EEA staff
Contact the web team
FAQ

Call us Call us

Reception:

Phone: (+45) 33 36 71 00
Fax: (+45) 33 36 71 99


next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Water / European waters / Heavily modified and artificial water bodies

Heavily modified and artificial water bodies

Many European river basins and waters have been altered by human activities, such as land drainage, dredging, flood protection, water abstraction and inter-basin water transfer, building of dams to create reservoirs and the digging of new canals for navigation purposes.

Water body

A water body is a certain clearly distinguishable part of surface water, such as a lake, a stream, river or a part a stream or river. A groundwater body is a certain volume of water under the surface, a part of a so-called aquifer. The water body is an important entity in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and enables us to relate water protection to natural hydrological units.
Heavily modified water bodies

Sometimes the natural conditions of a water body are substantially altered, e.g. by irrigation, drinking water supply, power generation and navigation. The WFD recognises that in some cases the benefits of such uses need to be retained. If a series of criteria are fulfilled, it allows designation of the water body as “artificial” or “heavily modified”, e.g. reservoirs, canals or canalised rivers.

These activities often lead to major changes in river processes, primarily the flow of the river, migration of animal species and the transport of particulate matter. Although the effects may not always be seen locally, their effects may be extensive. Downstream reaches are nearly always affected, and upstream reaches as well as the surrounding areas are often impacted on, too.

 Sluice

The Water Framework Directive distinguishes between two types of altered water bodies: Heavily Modified Water Body (HMWB) and Artificial Water Body (AWB):

  • HMWB are bodies of water which as a result of physical alterations by human activity are substantially changed in character and cannot, therefore, meet "good ecological status" (GES). In this context physical alterations mean changes to e.g. the size, slope, discharge, form and shape of river bed of a water body.
  • AWBs are surface water bodies which have been created in a location where no water body existed before and which have not been created by the direct physical alteration, movement or realignment of an existing water body.

 

EEA publications

EEA 1999: Lakes and reservoirs in the EEA area Topic report No 1.

WISE Viewer

Click on the map icon to see the WISE map of
heavily modified and artificial water bodies of Europe

Related content

Geographical coverage

[+] Show Map

Document Actions

Comments

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