Delineation of surface water bodies

The Water Framework Directive asks Member States to characterise all their 'surface water bodies' (SWB). This means they have to identify the location and the boundaries of the water bodies and classify them according to certain pre-defined surface water categories.

Consequently, Member States have delineated SWBs in the river basin districts and reported different data to characterize water bodies such as length (rivers) or area (lakes), national type, and information if a surface water body is designated as heavily modified or artificial.

The dashboards below provide an overview of different results related to delineation of SWBs. Further dashboards and items are available in the WISE Freshwater resource catalogue.

Caution is advised when comparing Member States and when comparing the first and second RBMPs, as the results are affected by the methods Member States have used to collect data and often cannot be compared directly.


Further information is provided in a Draft guide to dashboards on delineation of water bodies, in chapter 1 of the EEA report European waters – assessment of status and pressures 2018, and section 2.2 Characterisation of surface waters of the WFD 2016 reporting guidance.

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