The state of European water bodies

About 88 % of Europe’s freshwater use comes from rivers and groundwater, according to an article published on the website of the European Environment Agency in March 2021 Ensuring clean waters for people and nature. The rest comes from reservoirs (about 10 %) and lakes (less than 2 %).

Like any other vital resource or living organism, water can come under pressure. This can happen when demand for water exceeds its supply or when pollution reduces its quality.

Waste water treatment and reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus losses from agriculture have led to significant improvements in water quality. However, according to the EEA’s most recent data, only 44 % of surface waters in Europe achieve good or high ecological status, partly because of pollution. The situation of Europe’s groundwater is somewhat better. About 75 % of Europe’s groundwater areas has a ‘good chemical status’.

In the Italian Po Valley Plains, 51% of the water bodies are not in a good ecological state.