Europe's water information at your fingertips

News Published 22 Mar 2011 Last modified 20 Feb 2017
1 min read
Our demand for water and wastewater discharges, often have a substantial impact on the quality and quantity of freshwater resources. On World Water Day, 22 March, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and partners presented a new and improved version of the web portal Water Information System for Europe (WISE).


Europe hosts several million kilometres of rivers and streams and more than a million lakes. Each body of water has its own characteristics and specific environmental problems. As highlighted by the theme of this year's World Water Day, water is also the life elixir of our cities. It keeps the 'urban metabolism' running like for every other ecosystem or organism. Good water management is indispensable for cities as both too little and too much water and pollution can put entire urban systems at risk.

In the past, with growing populations and increasing demand for water, Europe's larger cities have generally relied on transporting water from surrounding regions. Now Europe needs to tackle its demand for water including the efficiency of water use.

WISE, which was made publicly available for the first time on 22 March 2007, brings together all the information collected from Member States at EU level and on surface and ground water, including data on bathing waters.

The new version of the web portal offers easy access to water statistics compiled by Eurostat and model-based services developed by Joint Research Centre (JRC) in addition to the water policy website maintained by DG Environment and the Water Data Centre maintained by the EEA. Interactive maps also provide a user-friendly visualisation of the status of water bodies as reported under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Water legislation in the EU

The key EU legislation on water, the Water Framework Directive, establishes a broad management approach based on river basin districts. River Basin Management Plans include Programme of Measures to achieve ‘good status’ in 2015, aimed by the Directive.


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